If you have grown up in church, then at some point you were taught that God is sovereign and everything is under his control. And sometimes that makes us think that if God is in control and something bad happens, then it must be God’s doing. He must have intended it and had a bigger plan with it.
Now there is some truth in this view, that we take comfort in. This idea that God is going to do something special with the pain we suffer, that it will somehow be used for our and other people’s good. And because we find that comfort in our pains, sometimes it’s hard for us to let go of the belief that God did not create the pain to begin with.
Please understand if you have suffered through great hardship, I by no means want to circumvent or diminish the realness of your pain. I also have undergone great hardship and I know we need God’s comfort in those situations. However, sometimes I’ve found that the way we view pain and God in those situations can actually make the pain worse than it really is. It can make us angry at God and confused, because we want to understand why He would do this to us. I want to preserve the truth of God’s ultimate redemption of our pain while at the same time helping us not to see God as the bad guy and the good guy.
Isaiah 54:14-15 “In righteousness you will be established; You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; And from terror, for it will not come near you. “If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you.”
What we see here is a picture of God. We understand that God is in control of everything, the new and old testament tell us so.
Psalm 22:28 For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.
However just like an earthly king, do all things happen according to that king’s will? It is the king’s job to rescue his people from plague, calamity, enemies, starvation, etc… But does this mean that the king is causing those things? He is in control of his empire, but he has enemies that resist his will.
Likewise, God is King and he has a plan to set everything to rights and to work all things together for our good, but he does not initiate every bad thing that happens. There are calamities that happen apart from his will because we still live in a fallen world sometimes under the influence of the devil.
If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me…
If everything happens because God wanted it to happen, then we would not just have to blame God for your troubles, but also for every evil thing in this world. Even Hitler and the Jew’s persecution. Is this supposed to be comforting?
In some movies we see the villains creating a dangerous chemical weapon to spread around the city, and they are also inventing the cure so that when the chemical has been released, they will become rich on selling the vaccine. We know who these characters are in the story, they are the villains. Why do we think God does this?
Psalm 34:15-22 “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.”
Here we see a righteous man who faces troubles. Is God unjust? Did he create trouble for the righteous? Not at all. Rather, because these men live righteously in a fallen world, they face persecution and trouble and the Lord is there to rescue them. What we need to understand then is this… God is in control of all things, and ultimately his will will prevail in every situation, but he is not the author of evil. There is an enemy, and there is a fallen world that sometimes try to have their way.
I sometimes think of it like a chess game. The enemy makes his move and for a moment it looks like he’s winning, but then God makes his move and makes the enemy’s move backfire and become the very thing that causes him to loose the game.
When you face troubles, God doesn’t just pat you on the back and say sorry that the world hurt you. He is actively working in those situations to redeem you, heal your pains, restore everything, and eventually turn those very things into your benefit and good later on. Sometimes he does such a good job of turning situations around for our good, it’s hard to imagine that He did not create the pain to begin with.
So I think when we suffer, we should not wonder what God’s will is in that situation or why he would cause it or let it happen. Instead we understand it for what it is, it’s a trouble of this world, and God will redeem us from those situations and turn things around for our good.