How do you feel about the statement: “God is not in control?” Maybe you disagree. Maybe you look around the world and think, “It sure does NOT seem like a world where God is control.” Maybe the thought that God might not be in control is scary to you. Maybe you want some reassurance that he is in control precisely because the world is so messed up.
In this week’s series of blog posts on the question, “Is God in Control?”, I’ve suggested that God does not control the universe in a meticulous way like a grand puppet master. Instead, he has authority, while creating us with free will. It might seem frightening to think we live in a world where God is not fully in control. I believe, however, that, if I am right, and God is not fully in control, he made a fantastic choice, and I am so thankful for it. Here’s why:
When we read Romans 8:28, it shows us that God is working within things that aren’t going as they should. If all was in his control and happening just as he would dream and hope it would, then he would have no reason to promise us that, “All things work together for good…” He wouldn’t need to be working anything together. It would be an unnecessary promise.
God has authority and power and enough goodness and love for me and for you to turn the brokenness of this world for good. Whether that is a world-wide pandemic or a mess of our own making. Jesus came and walked this earth and healed sickness; he did not come and cause sickness. He had compassion and was moved to tears when people (his real treasure whom he chose to die for) felt pain. And Jesus on earth was an earthly representation of God. So what we say about Jesus is also the character of God.
We conclude where we started. The verses supposedly about God’s control have turned out to not actually be about his control, and yet they are still beautiful verses that can be a gift to us in times when we are feeling like life is out of control, when there is pain and difficulties. In these verses God gives us a powerful reminder that we need to dwell on when we are struggling: We can rely on him in the midst of the fear and pain.
As we continue with the difficult reality of life that is the coronavirus pandemic, I urge you to go to God. If you are wondering how to spend time with him, consider writing him your thoughts in a journal. Listen for the Spirit to talk with you. Talk with your family and friends about him. Hear him give you words of comfort as you read these verses again.
- Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
- Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
- Philippians 4:6-7“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
It is in his goodness that we have free will. It is out of love and relationship that we have free will. It is out of his goodness that he sits with us and cares for us in the midst of troubles and pain. There he offers his amazing strength and power and peace. There he hears our cries and answers them. There he works in the muck of this world for our good. His authority is a beautiful powerful thing. He has the victory, and after we are finished on this beautiful, but very broken, world, we have hope of eternity with our good God who loves and treasures us.