. The RLC stands for red letter Christians and we have them on our scholar’s list. After this post we will take a couple of days break to rest.
The topic of God’s control comes up whenever there is a senseless death or two. We will briefly take a look at this topic because it is not an easy one to address. We are never told if God gives up control. His being the most powerful Being in existence we doubt he gives up any control. He may allow things to take place because he has granted men the right of free choice and to choose which path they are to follow.
But he does not give up control and can stop certain events from taking place when he choses to do so.
#1. All too often when there is news of a tragedy, such as a mass shooting or a child suffering from bone cancer, there will be someone who will say something like, “God is in control. We must accept that what’s happened is part of God’s plan!”
Sometimes it is hard to see God working or in control and we need patience to learn certain lessons. In our last year of teaching in Korea we had the sinking of the Sewol ferry. Almost 300 students died in that tragedy and it is hard to see God’s hand in it all. But if God micro-managed everything, we would not learn how to follow his will correctly.
By not micro-managing, God is still in control he is just giving his creation leeway to make the right decisions. He has told us to be just, merciful when needed, and more. If God did it all, how could we choose to obey him? Allowing people to obey him is not giving up control but allowing people to grow, learn from their mistakes and so on.
A business owner giving instructions to his employees then lets his employees go to work does not lose control of his business. The business owner has provided the instructions the employees are to follow. If they do not, then the owner can deal with the disobedient employees. If the business owner gives those instructions yet continues the telling the employees what to do, he has wasted those instructions. He maintains tighter control by micromanaging and in either scenario has not lost control. He just shows his lack of trust in his employees.
God has given us instructions on how to live and behave. He does not sacrifice control when he allows us to choose to obey or not. He gives us trust to make the right decisions.
#2. At the funeral of a young man who died in a mountain climbing accident, the pastor said in his homily, “We must see what has happened as God’s will!” At that, the father of the young man stood and shouted, “The hell it was God’s will! When my son died, God was the first one who cried.”
We would disagree with that pastor as that is not the right thing to say at a funeral. While the pastor is trying to give comfort, he fails and gives more pain. We also do not agree with the father in that quoted example. What both do not realize is that once Adam sinned, death entered the world. Everyone must die. What both also do not realize is that God did not promise a long life to everyone.
The Bible verse, it is appointed unto man once to die, does not promise longevity to anyone. Death will strike whenever and wherever God allows it to. This is why we are told to make the most out of our lives. We will never know when it is time for us to leave this earth. Young people are not immune to dying. As has been witnessed time and again over the generations.
This is another reason why we are to put our hope in God and not in our children. God won’t die while we may outlive our loved ones.
How we handle these types of death is another matter. We should not sin or get angry with God. He has appointed a time of death for everyone. Do people die prematurely? It is hard to say. God gave certain people the gift of healing, are they using that gift as God would want? It is not God’s fault if certain people do not use their gifts on a wide scale.
It is also not God’s fault if someone dies at a young age.God has given us instructions on how to handle such deaths and his son is ready to comfort us when we need him. In our sorrow we need to let Jesus come to our aid and bring us thorugh tragic deaths.
#3. In a televised discussion between a Christian apologist and an avowed atheist, the Christian was stymied when asked, “If an all-powerful and loving God is in control of what happens in this world, then why is there so much suffering?”
We have dealt with this question before. We like to quote Dr. Craig Blomberg who wrote in his book from Pentecost to Patmos that for God to stop suffering, he must end the world. That is about the best answer we have seen on this issue. Sin, corruption, death, pain, suffering are all a product of sin. As long as evil and sin exist in the world there will be suffering.
This does not mean God has given up any control, it means that for God to end suffering he must give up on his desire that all men be saved. Like he did in Noah’s time, he must pass judgment because too many people have chosen evil and darkness over him and his light. Once he does this, he cannot let the world and the universe exist anymore for it all has been tainted and corrupted by evil.
That is why we read in Revelation that God will create a new heaven and a new earth because the old will always have suffering as a part of it. While Christians should be happy about this turn of events, we should also be sad. We will be seeing far too many people sent to hell and there will be no more opportunity to rescue them.
#4. I am not questioning the extent of God’s power. I believe that God has chosen not to be in control of everything going on in this world.
This may be a misguided thought as God allowing something to happen does not mean he has no control. He is letting people exercise the freedoms he has granted them. God still is in control he is just not micromanaging people’s lives. Contrary to the RLC author, God has not given up any power. God’s love still comes with his power. We see Jesus still with his power as he can see and know the hearts of men. He can heal, do miracles and so on.
We cannot deal fully with all of the issues that author included in his article. Suffice it to say, that both God and Jesus never gave up control. They are still in charge of every situation and we must be patient to learn why the results were as they were. But like in the Korean tragedy, we do not get angry but look to obey God’s instructions so that he may be glorified and his will done. Justice has to be served, people comforted, mercy granted and much more.
We do not know whom will be saved through the right response to pre-mature deaths or tragic events. We must trust God and obey his commands and instructions. He is in control and we are his servants. This does not mean that we cannot still pray and ask for certain changes like Hezekiah did when he was sick. Prayer helps many situations but it will not stop that final time when someone is to finally die.