As Christians we sometimes over-spiritualize our situations. Taking passages of the Bible that refer to suffering in relation to Christ and preaching the Gospel (aka, persecution) and applying them to suffering in relation to our bad decisions, or unwillingness to listen to God. The truth is, by in large, most of the tragedy spoken of in the Bible was caused by disobedience. The book of Proverbs is chalked full of common sense, “I told you so” kind of instruction to help us avoid calamity.
I know that’s not a popular thing to say in church these days. The easy thing to do would be to just believe God wanted it to happen as part of some great and mysterious cosmic plan. Because then you’d be relieved of all that responsibility.
Yes it’s true God works all things together for the good. Yes it’s true that you can learn a lot by going through dire situations. But it is a lie that most of these things can’t be avoided.
28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge . . .
30 They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke.
31 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies.
32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.”
Many take comfort in the belief that God can do anything. This idea by itself has no real practical significance. And really, if you think about it, can be quite scary.
The concepts of Sovereignty and Omnipotence hold little assurance because they do not reveal intentions. Have you ever heard someone say, “be careful around that person. They’re capable of anything!” Hearing those words doesn’t quite make you feel all warm and fuzzy do they? When we say God is Omnipotent we are saying He is capable of anything. What you are left with is an unpredictable God. A Cosmic Toddler, if you will, who may decide at any moment to either save, or damn to hell. To heal, or smite with disease.
No, there is no comfort in what God can do until we know what He cannot do.
And what He cannot do is lie (Titus 1:2).
It is from this fact, that everything we know concerning God’s Love, Faithfulness, and Mercy can be formulated and relied upon.
A Little Too Sovereign?
I think sometimes Christians over emphasize the sovereignty of God to the point that they begin to blame Him for everything happening in the world. God may be sovereign, but He is also limited by His Word. The Bible tells us He cannot lie. If He can’t lie, then there are things God does not do. How do we find out what those things are? By reading His Word. Once you know what He has said, you then know what He is bound to.
For example, if a child is sick and ends up dying as a result, people often say things like, “God took them. It’s a blessing
in disguise.” Death and sickness are never referred to in the Bible as blessings. They are referred to as enemies, evil, and a curse (Deut 28, 1Cor 15). So you see, God cannot call something a blessing, that He has already declared a curse. That’s a lie. When we accuse God of such, we are inadvertently calling Him a liar. Others say, “That child dying was part of God’s will.” This is attributing a characteristic to the will of God that cannot be true. Jesus said in reference to little children, “It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish (Matt 18).”
I’ve talked to some Christians who say, “You never know what God, in His Sovereignty might do. He may decree for you to sin tomorrow. If He does, it’ll be His will, His hand will be on it and He will be controlling the whole thing.” No, God wouldn’t do that. He can’t. The Bible says God set us free from sin. For Him to put us back in bondage to it would be a contradiction.
On the subject of healing, some have said, “You can pray in faith, but healing still may not come. If it doesn’t, it’s because God, in His divine wisdom, decided not to answer that prayer” Nope. God has to answer that prayer. James 5 says the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up.
So . . . ?
Some will wonder why, then, do these things happen if they are not God’s Will? And that is a legitimate question but I would do it injustice to attempt an answer here on this particular article. I will, however, challenge you to ask yourself why we seem hard wired to think the default answer for all things happening in the world is, “God did it.” This type of reasoning inevitably leads people to use events and worldly experiences to measure and evaluate the character of God. This is one of the most dangerous things a believer could ever do because the Bible says it’s the devil who is in control of this whole world (1Jn 5). He is the power over the present darkness (Eph 6). To attempt to discern God’s will based on things that are happening in a world dominated by the enemy would be serious error.
The best way to discern Who God is and what He does is by finding out what He said.
He cannot lie. And you really should be glad. I cannot imagine serving a God who says one thing, but may decide at anytime not to honor it. The promises of salvation, heaven, forgiveness and redemption would all mean nothing.