“It was God’s Will”
“God needed another angel in heaven”
“Just be comforted in the fact that this is what God wanted”
I call BS. Before we go any further, I want to apologize to anyone that has heard these things spoken to them. They send a wrong message about God, about the church, and about God’s plan for all life.
If you’ve ever lost someone in your life, then you’ve probably heard these things and many more spoken to you, the grieving friend or family member, in the hopes that these words would comfort you. Unfortunately, you also know that these words are much less than comforting. Why do you think that is? God is comforting, and resting in Him is certainly one of the most peaceful places you can be, so if these words about God are true, then why don’t they comfort? The answer is more simple than you think: THESE THINGS ARE NOT TRUE!
I am willing to accept that sometimes it IS an act of mercy that God would decide to end an Earthly life to cease suffering and pain, but I cannot accept that that is the norm. I cannot accept that everytime someone dies it was because God chose that they should die. That mindset comes from an ultra predestination God-view, and while I will not debate it here, suffice it to say that this mindset is by far the simplest mindset that can be held of God. It is the most comforting, and quite frankly it is the easiest to fall back on. It allows for God to be all-powerful, and it takes the responsibility for decisions out of our hands–because God has already decided how we will act and respond.
The problem with this comes up when you start asking questions about the nature of natural disasters, miscarriages, mass murders, war, terrorist attacks, and every other kind of pain and evil in the world. Did God plan for those too? Did He decide that the planes on 9/11 would be hijacked and flown into the Twin Towers? Did God in His ultimate power decide that Katrina should happen, or that ebola would strike, or that 250,000 – 500,000 people worldwide should die each year from flu, or that the tsunami in the Indian Ocean should kill 230,000 people, or that almost 16,000 people should die from the 2011 earthquake/tsunami that hit Japan? The list could go on, but you get my point. Bad things happen in this world, and they happen for a reason, but that reason IS NOT GOD. I know that people will say I’m diminishing the power of God, but I don’t think that I am. Some will also say that like Thomas Jefferson, I am a deist; also not true.
While I know that God is not the clockmaker that steps back after His creation is complete, we must admit that there is a clock, and it has been made. We must admit that this world has rules, it has physical laws that God has set up to keep the world spinning and hurtling around the sun. The law of gravity keeps us in orbit around the sun and keeps the moon around the earth like a cosmic armor bearer protecting us from oncoming objects. It is also gravity that allows for the tides to come in and go out every day, refreshing the shores and sweeping trash out to sea (this is both good and bad, but it is still a physical law). If I were a scientist, or had at minimum paid attention in my science classes, I could tell you more, but you get my point: God set up laws in this world, and sometimes those laws end up creating very bad situations.
So what does this mean? Does God not interact with the Earth anymore? Absolutely not. God shows up in very real and powerful ways all across the globe, in miracles, in healings, in salvation, in the transformation of minds and hearts, and most powerfully God showed up in history, by sending Jesus as our salvation. The hard part about accepting a world-view where God isn’t dictating every action of everything, is that we need to admit that sometimes God says “no” to our requests, and sometimes God chooses to let the world play out according to the laws He set up. The other “player” we havent discussed here but will in future blogs is the nature of the fallen world, and lets be clear that this is a big “player” but that’s for another day.