Was It God’s Mysterious Will, Or Are You an Idiot?

A good percentage of Christians who say they believe God ordains all things (He’s behind everything, pulling the levers and making things happen with no free will on humanity’s part) tend to have tough situations in life they are struggling to resolve.

Often the most extreme language about God doing all things is around death. Many people whom we love are taken away from us, why? “Time and chance happens to them all” does not satisfy many. We want an answer that gives our brain some sort of sense, a solid fact to rest on rather than ambiguous, “I don’t know.”

So, funeral talk is sprinkled with “God needed him up there more than we needed him down here,” or “I guess it was his time to go.” This, for some reason, gives our brain a degree of solace.

I’ve also noticed that many people who have kids who walked away from the faith, or physical disabilities, or job/financial trauma also start talking about God being on His throne and such things.

Without minimizing true pain and suffering, we should rethink this deterministic theology.

If God does everything and you have no free will, you also have no power to do anything about it. If your kid walking away from the faith is answered with, “I guess that’s God’s mysterious plan,” this will prevent you from taking action, and more than likely, prevent you from considering what part you played in their falling away. Kids often point out weaknesses in their parent’s faith. Perhaps there’s an area of growth being pointed out for you rather than a giant mystery.

As long as it’s “God’s mysterious will,” then I’m off the hook. Does this give a degree of comfort? I suppose so. Resting in a theology that says, “It wasn’t me” probably feels good!

On the flip side, if you go the other way and figure God had nothing at all to do with this, it was all me, then you have another set of problems. People who don’t think God is involved at all battle depression. Now everything is my fault, and what in the world can I do about it? It removes hope and diminishes prayer.

If I’m doing everything I think I’m supposed to, and everything blows up in my face anyway, what’s the point of doing all that? Why bother? Why continue if nothing matters anyway?

Both responses result in the same fatalistic attitude: What can I do?

Most false doctrine is an attempt to get rid of personal responsibility. “The woman you gave me made me do it” followed by “The serpent made me do it” said the first sinners. We haven’t stopped. Getting out of responsibility drives our beliefs.

Bad things happen to everybody. It will not help to assume all your problems are outside of your control. It will also not help to assume everything is your fault as this will beat you into the ground.

Job’s life blew up. He had many questions. He didn’t fatalistically chalk it up to God’s will. Nor did he take it all on himself. He desperately wanted to talk to God about it.

Job was patient, we are told. Job spent an entire chapter wondering why he wasn’t killed at birth! This doesn’t sound excessively patient to me! Patience might be different from our assumptions. Patience means to endure under trial.

If crying out to God in real anguish, considering the benefits of early death, helps you endure, then go for it! God can handle it.

Job considered his behavior. He checked everything. He didn’t see anything sinful that he did, thus his confusion about why things blew up.

Job is a great example of dealing with earthly pain. He knew God was behind it, so he wanted to talk to God and get it taken care of. Job also was not fatalistic to never consider his own behavior in light of what was happening. We do reap what we sow.

Next time terrible things drop on you, don’t chalk it up to God’s mysterious will and move on in fatalistic resignation. Consider your part. Is there anything you did to lead to these results? If so, what can you do now to help?

If you can’t think of anything, then take it to the Lord and figure out how best to respond to what’s going on. Let the Lord have it, like Job did. The Lord could be doing any number of things behind the scenes, never lose sight of that.

There needs to be a healthy balance, a humble investigation into what’s going on and what I’m supposed to do about it. Knowing that God can help even this terrible thing work for your good is a great comfort. Knowing that there might be things you can do to immediately improve the situation is also a great comfort.

Don’t let your doctrine eliminate your personal responsibility over your life. Don’t let your doctrine undermine the power of God that can work in your life through many terrible things. Trust God and do good.

%d bloggers like this: