Confessions: All Good Things


Yes, the comforts of human milk took me under their care, but it wasn’t my mother or my nurses who filled their own breasts; you yourself gave me, through them, the nourishment of infancy, according to your dispensation; you gave me your riches, which you’ve allocated clear down to the lowest place in the universe. You gave me the gift of not wanting more than you gave me, and to those who nursed me, you gave the desire to give to me what you gave to them. They wanted, through the feelings you ordained, to give to me what overflowed in them, coming from you. Their good was my good coming from them, because it wasn’t actually from them, but only through them.


All good things, in fact, are from you, God, and from my God is my full deliverance. I became aware of this later, when you shouted at me through these very things you bestow inside me and outside me. But at first, back then, I knew enough to suckle, and to find satisfaction with pleasures, and to cry at physical annoyances—and I knew nothing else.—Saint Augustine, Confessions 1.7


Augustine says together with James, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17) Even the most selfless acts of love coming from his own mother was God’s goodness coming through her. What if we saw all the good we experience in this way? What if we saw all the good we give in this way? What if we saw God using those who love us as a means of loving us? What if we saw ourselves as a means of God loving those he loves? Then we could say with the Psalmist, “I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.’" (Ps 16:2) Just as Augustine notes, the very things God has bestowed inside and outside of us shout at us to become aware.


“Ask counsel of all that are wise... Bless the Lord thy God always… the Lord himself giveth all good things.” (Tob 4:19)


“I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came to me… All good things together came to me with her[wisdom], and innumerable riches in her hands.” (Wis 7:7–11.)


“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God.” (2 Cor 1:30)


Lord, give me your wisdom to see that all good things come from you because you are good. Note: These are my daily reflections as I go through Saint Agustine's Confessions. Unless otherwise noted, I am using Sarah Ruden's translation of the original text, and the NIV.

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