Thursday, July 21, 2016

Is God in Control Even of the Bad Things




Reading Response Session IV: Is God in Control of Everything?
Wendy Glidden
Colorado Christian University: College of Adult and Graduate Studies

This week’s reflection asks the question; What is better from a pastoral position?

(A) To insist that God neither causes tragedy nor willfully allows it.
(B)  To profess that God is in control even of the bad things that happen on earth.

After studying the Bible for the past four years, I am in the belief that it is better to profess that God is in control even of the bad things that happen on earth for I feel that this stance lines up with what is revealed in Scripture.

One look at the book of Job and we see that God allowed Satan to try Job with one condition; he was not allowed to directly end Job’s life.

[6] Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. [7] The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” [8] The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” [9] Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing? [10] Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. [11] But put forth Your hand now and touch all he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” [12] Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1:6-12, NASB)

While it is somewhat chilling to realize that God allows Satan to tempt us to denounce God of all things, we must follow the story to see that in the end, God blessed Job with more than he lost due to his holding firm to his faith in the LORD God above all else.

We must remember that this life is short and often not sweet. We are promised tribulation but we are also told to take comfort in it. When those who are in the midst of the storm begin blaming God, we must attempt to turn them to the truths found in the word and not try to soften the blow with false comfort.

I find it much more assuring to know that God uses all evils for the good of those that love Him then to say that He is not in control and is just allowing things to spin out of control but will swoop in at the end and save the day. That seems to me like a God who does not love enough as well as a God who is not involved!
I think often we try to reason with our own understanding but the word very clearly tells us that this way of thinking is not in our best interest. Instead, we are advised to trust the Lord:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5, NASB)

This is exactly how Job handled the tragedies that took place in his life. Regardless of the advice and criticism he faced from family and friends, he kept his faith firmly planted in the LORD. Yes, he cried out in anguish. Yes, He asked why. He even warned God that he would in essence lay down and die and the LORD would no longer find him, but he did not curse God for the calamity that struck his family and his own health.

God knows our pain but He comes along side us with promises of eternal life and even an abundant life while here on earth should we just keep our focus on the truth and not on our emotions which in all honesty are always open to manipulation by Satan and his minions.


The truth of the situation is that this life will have its share of tribulations. We are not here to question God on His plan. That is made clear in Job as well. We are here to live our life trusting in the LORD and leaning on Him through it all. As we grow to this point in our belief and faith, we are in turn to share the good news with all who have the inclination to hear.

“At this point someone might raise the question, “If God could not create the world without the accompanying possibility of evil, why did he create at all, or why did he not create the world without human beings?” In a sense, we cannot answer that question since we are not God, but it is appropriate to note here that it was evidently better in terms of what God ultimately intends, that he create rather than not create. And it was better to create beings capable of fellowship with and obedience to him, even in the face of temptations to do otherwise. This was evidently a greater good than to introduce “humans” into a totally antiseptic environment from which even the logical possibility of desiring anything contrary to God’s will would have been excluded.” (p 162-63, Erickson)

I think in the world today, more than ever, people are having a hard time understanding how God can sit by and allow so much evil to triumph in the world. I know that I see this line of questioning in social media posts.
My heart breaks for these people for I know they do not have faith in a loving God. I refuse to say that God is not in control. When I hear this statement it makes me cringe for I know in my heart that God has a plan.

Tragedy has been a part of this world since the fall and yet time and time again we have read and witnessed how God has indeed used evil and turned it into good.

Do I know His every move and intention in this life? No. I do not. I am not God. I am a servant and a follower. I do know in my heart that God always has us come what may. I have discovered joy in the midst of the storms in life. This is His gift for the present time and eternal life is His gift for those who believe.
“Once we understand that God is the all-powerful Creator, it seems reasonable to conclude that he also preserves and governs everything in the universe as well.” (p 315, Grudem)

I have heard those trying to comfort others, blame all that is wrong on the world to the subject of free will which makes me more uncomfortable than the alternative; for the one seems to limit the omnipresence of the LORD. That is something we must avoid at all times for I believe that this line of thinking is not beneficial to one finding trust in the LORD God.

“The biblical doctrine does not teach that events in creation are determined by chance (or randomness), nor are they determined by impersonal fate (or determinism), but by God, who is the personal yet infinitely powerful Creator and Lord.” (p 315, Grudem)

In the end, we must stick to Scripture and the truth found within. From stories like Job, Joseph, Daniel, David, Moses and even Acts, we can see that where tragedy struck, God brought about good. Yes, life is full of tragedy but in Christ, we who believe, will always triumph in the end!

This approach, stating that God is in control of everything, in my opinion, is a much more comforting pastoral message in the face of tragedy. It is the one that delivers me to a confident hope!


References
MacArthur, J. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible (Updated Ed). USA: Thomas Nelson
Millard J. Erickson, (2015). Introducing Christian Doctrine. (Third Edition) Grand Rapids, MI. Baker Academic
Wayne Grudem. (1994). Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan
Wiley-Blackwell (2011) The Christian Theology Reader (4th Edition). UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Publication


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