Published October 17, 2013
Question: Is everything that happens God’s will?
Answer: A delightful and insightful Sunday School teacher wrote me this note: “I am getting ready to put up a poster in my class … that asks the question: ‘Is everything that happens God’s will?’ Maybe you can tackle that question in the Index sometime.”
Some people are quick to tell us that everything is the will of God. They are not shy about sharing their opinion with people in the midst of pain and anguish. They are out not to hurt but to help suffering souls by assuring them that God is in complete control.
I have visited many hospital patients and grieving families told by well-intentioned relatives and friends that their situation is the “will of God.” A stunned and saddened family who had just lost their 16-year-old son in a car accident didn’t know what to say when told that their loss was the “will of God.”
What do we say? W.E. Sangster wrote about meeting a minister returning from a funeral. Visibly distraught, the minister explained: “I have just buried a child and the child’s father is under arrest for manslaughter. Last Saturday evening the father came home drugged out of his mind and while trying to climb into bed where his wife and baby were sleeping the man inadvertently pushed his baby out of bed. The baby’s head struck a pointed metal object. The next morning they found the little baby lying on the floor cold and dead. The father was arrested.
“I had someone come up to me at the graveside and say, ‘Ah well, it can’t be helped, I suppose. It was God’s will.’” The minister almost shouted: “That wasn’t the will of God!”
Rick Warren and his wife, who have suffered the death of a son by suicide, were recently interviewed on CNN. During that interview Rick said: “Not everything that happens in the world is God’s will. Everything that happens … God allows … because it couldn’t happen without His permission; we live in a world (of) free choices and if I choose to do wrong, I can’t blame God for that… God isn’t to blame for my son’s death. My son took his own life. It was his choice and if I chose to go out and get drunk and get in a car and I was in an accident, killed somebody, I can’t blame God for that.”
Although God’s sovereign will ultimately prevails, there is much that happens in the meantime within His overarching plan that is either not His will or wrapped in inscrutability defies our explanation and awaits final revelation. We can and must say that this is not God’s kind of world where His will is always done His way.
This is why Christ, taught us to pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done! We yearn for that new heaven and new earth free from natural disasters (falsely labeled “act of God”), physical diseases, and personal/national tragedies. Until then we deal with many “acts of evil,” relying on the fact that God is with us and for us.
We follow Christ, Who confronted evil and healed the sick and suffering. When we pray and care for the afflicted we are not working against God’s will but in accordance with His will. In the midst of heartbreak and tragedy we hear Paul’s words in II Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
I close with his words in Romans 8:28 about how God works through good and bad circumstances “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose…” Amen!
Paul Baxter serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church on the Square in LaGrange.
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