“Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Why does God let people die of cancer?” “Will God intervene and get me the job?” “Is God teaching me a lesson?” “Am I being punished?” These may be common questions you ponder or questions you have heard from people who are struggling in their faith. They are tough questions.
So, is God controlling everything in this world? Does God cause or direct everything that happens to believers? Should we thank or blame Him for all of our experiences?
Since God created this world, He is ‘technically’ responsible for all of its activity. However, this world was designed to function with a “cause-and-effect” process. All activity in the universe produces a good or not-so-good result. Consequently, God does not actually “cause” each good and bad experience, some things just naturally happen.
Cause and Effect
The process of cause-and-effect is actually a God given “good” source of wisdom. (a) [see end notes for Scriptures] Life in this natural world teaches us to not touch hot things, to come in from the cold, to be cautious in troubling situations, and to press on through difficult times. God expects us to gain some wisdom through these events, but He doesn’t specifically cause each of them.
There are areas in this world where the activity of heat, wind and moisture produce barren deserts while in others areas they produce lush growth and garden-like conditions. Atmospheric variations bring little or much rain, tornadoes and hurricanes, as natural occurrences. God can redirect such activity, but they are naturally generated events.
We are all born into this natural environment to experience days and nights, ups and downs, ins and outs, hot and cold, rain and shine, and it’s obviously good and not so good variables. Sometimes our circumstances can be a bit overwhelming and become harmful.
Most of our good and bad experiences come as a result of someone’s action. What we eat and drink affects our moods and actions, causing us to be calm, alert, anxious, or accidental. All of our purposeful, nonchalant, or accidental activities function within the natural law of cause-and-effect.
The process of cause-and-effect is actually a God given “good” source of wisdom.
While Scripture instructs us to “in everything give thanks,” (b) it does not say we are to be thankful “for” everything, as though God controls all activity. Destructive motion is continually happening in this world. Yes, God can and many times will bring something good out of bad experiences. (c) This is especially true for believers. (d)
However, many times, it is our lack of response to God’s guidance that brings ill upon us. We are tempted and go astray by what we see, hear and erroneously believe. (e) The delivered Israelites feared what could happen if they fought for what God provided, so they lived and died in a wilderness. (f) David suffered loss when he failed to walk in the ways of God. (g)
The ‘man’ Jesus Christ, after God’s Spirit anointed him, was “led by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted.” (h) After 40 days without food, he was weakened. Thoughts came that tempted him to prove his relationship with God by his own words and actions.
The three ideas that came to Jesus were similar to what historically has kept people in slavery: fear of personal harm. The Apostle Paul spoke of this fear of hunger and death as a cause of slavery: “Those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (j) When we are fearful of death and submit “to be safe,” we enter forms of slavery. Jesus responded to the deceiving thoughts with God’s Word and refused to submit. The Spirit of God leads and guides us into abundant life, not enslavement. (k)
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” (l)
The Spirit of God leads and guides us into abundant life, not enslavement.
The Influence of Fear
In this world, there is always a force that opposes the good, productive and prosperous. This natural life is filled with “good and evil” activity. God designed it this way so He could teach and guide us as children. Our biggest problem is similar to the Garden of Eden: we tend to ignore God’s guidance as our “better” source of wisdom.
Much of our difficulties actually come because of the wrongful perceptions that influence others. Overlords consistently use the emotion of fear to control us! The quality of our lives often deteriorates because people want to gain control or maintain power.
Yes, Scripture says God “sets up kings and brings them down,” as though He clearly has a hand in their rise and fall. (m) But Scripture does not say God controls everything that happens in our individual lives. The love and care God has for us desires to lead and guide us, not to bring us into fearful submission.
Despite some Gospel preaching, our God of Love and Light does not generate, draw, or drive us by fear. “There is no fear in love; but perfect (mature) love casts out fear.” (n) Fear was the first emotion that came upon Adam and Eve when they moved away from God’s guidance. (o) The care-giving promises of God are available but we must repent and choose to partake of them without fear of opposition.
Unlike fallible men, God does not function as a tyrant, forcing obedience to His will, by demanding our submission. God is not in the business of enslaving and controlling our lives. His reign is with a shepherd’s staff (wrongly translated “rod of iron”). (p) Eventually all will bow the knee in worshipful acknowledgement of His way of life. (r)
God is not in the business of enslaving and controlling our lives. His reign is with a shepherd’s staff.
So what is God’s plan for you and me? You may be surprised to hear ‘plan’ and ‘planned’ are not found in the KJV of Scripture. Scripture does not say God has a specific plan for each of our lives. The closest reference to an intention for us is found in His first mention of mankind:
“Let us make man in our image and likeness.” (s)
God’s declared purpose for us, can be translated into a clearer English as; “Let’s birth and form mankind into plural reflections and resembles of My character, attitude and personality.” God’s intention is for us to grow and mature into expressions of His heart.
Jesus provided what is called, The Lord’s Prayer. In it he says: “Deliver us from evil, (destructive behavior).” (t) This is accomplished as we “work out” into our life experience, what God is “working in” us. (u) How well are we living as expressions of God’s heart?
God’s intention is for us to grow and mature into expressions of His heart.
a) Genesis 2:9; 3:6; b) 1 Thessalonians 5:18; c) Romans 8:28; d) 1 Timothy 4:10; e) James 1:14, 16; Galatians 6:7; f) Numbers 14:20-34; g) 2 Samuel 12:1-15; h) Luke 4:1; j) Hebrews 2:15; k) John 5:39-40; 10:10; l) James 1:13; m) Psalms 2:29; 2 Chronicles 20:6; n) 1 John 4:18; o) 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 John 2:16-17; p) Revelation 2:27; 12:5; r) Romans 14:11; s) Genesis 1:26-27; t) Matthew 6:13; u) Philippians 2:12-13