"She was a Christian, but she was distraught about her daughter's death all those years ago. 'Why would God take my child?' she asked me. I was able to give her comfort. 'It wasn't God's will,' I assured her. 'God never wills that kind of thing.' She felt much better."
It was an actual discussion I heard. It was an actual position that was taken. And, I'm fairly certain, it was not a minority view. The speaker was a Christian, and I'm sure that many agree. God doesn't will that kind of thing.
I am, however, completely baffled by "She felt much better." Years ago a youth pastor I know was asked to officiate at a funeral of some friends. He wrote out his planned remarks and asked me to review them. He said much the same thing. I told him, "You can go with that if you want, but, please, please, don't use that line of thinking at my funeral or any funeral I might be at. Such a notion would be devastating to me." He was somewhat surprised. "Because," I told him, "you're telling me that God lost, that poor God with all His power and sovereignty and omniscience and all just couldn't manage to stop it. He couldn't have healed him or her or He couldn't have prevented the accident or hostile action or whatever. He was not God in this situation. And that provides you with comfort, perhaps, but it terrifies me. When else will He fail? Given the current death rates (100%) and add in the current tragedy rates (a whole lot), I'd have to guess that God fails a whole lot. I don't find comfort in that."
I read recently of a Christian who lost a daughter. He told God, "You had no right to take my daughter from me!" He said he didn't want to hear another well-meaning Christian quote Romans 8.28" data-version="nasb95" data-purpose="bible-reference" target="_blank" style="text-decoration-line: none; color: rgb(70,149, 156); font-family: Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, FreeSans, sans-serif; font-size: 13px;">Romans 8:28 to him. This was not comforting. I understand. This is in the heat of the moment, in the intense emotional response of the day. He also said it passed and he recovered and he learned to love the promise that God was always producing good, even in the hard times, but I think we miss that ... badly. Even without the emotional trauma of a lost loved one, we think, "Unpleasant things like that are not God's will." Because that exonerates God, I suppose. But God says something different. God says (this is an actual quote from God) "I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things" (Isaiah 45:6-7). Paul claims that God "works all things according to the counsel of His will" (Ephesians 1:11). That doesn't leave room for an exception. The psalmist says, "Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases" (Psalm 115:3). That would, quite obviously, include all that He pleases. God says, "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose'" (Isaiah 46:9-10). "All My purpose" would mean all of His purpose, wouldn't it? Solomon wrote on the subject, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand" (Proverbs 19:21) and "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps" (Proverbs 16:9) Sounds like God actually intervenes in human choices. On and on it goes. Scripture us stuffed with these kinds of claims.
The problem, I think, is not that the Bible is unclear. The problem, I'm relatively sure, is not that it's not God's will. The problem, I am certain, is us. The problem is that we don't get it. We think that God's view of "good" is our own ... and it's not. Not always. We think that "good" includes "pleasant" and excludes "unpleasant," includes "comfortable" and excludes "pain." We want good and we're pretty sure that what we want is good and God, being a good God, would certaintly, then, want what we think is good. God has declared otherwise. The problem is not that God doesn't want good for us; the problem is we don't always know what that is.
The question, then, is simple. It is not, "Is God good?" He is absolutely good (Psalm 136:1). He is the definition of good. (The word "good" comes from the Old English word for "God." In English, God is literally the definition of good.) The question is "Will I trust Him?" Will you agree with God that what He does is good, or if He does it and you don't like it will you need to find an excuse for Him? Will you require that God conform to your definitions and values, or are you willing to work toward changing your definitions and values to match His? Like He commands (Romans 12:2)?
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