For many people, in a world of dizzy events that often give birth to damage, physical pain, loss of life, property, affluence, etc., God ultimately is responsible. It is so as the result of their insistence that God controls everything that happens in life and that everything happens for a reason. This, seen in this context, is blind faith.
We need to be careful as to how we evaluate our own or another’s trouble as the will of God what Jesus, and His servant the Apostle Paul, called the will of Satan. Paul, in sharing some unidentified physical limitation, stated to the Corinthian people that the ailment was Satan’s messenger that reminded him to be humble. Jesus, after healing a crippled woman on the Sabbath was severely chastised for having broken the law of labor on the Sabbath. Jesus smothered the criticism by scolding His detractors for feeding animals and leading them to water on that sacred day. And then he rebuked them for their dogma by saying that Satan had kept the lady captive for 18 years! Clearly, neither situation was God’s will, but one that was allowed.
God allows sin, but His will is holiness. God allows ignorance, but His will is for knowledge to be gained and used as an asset. God allows folly, but His will is wisdom. What is allowed accounts for much of mankind’s trauma as shown in our suffering caused by folly, ignorance and sin.
What God appears to allow is the measure of His purpose in bringing good out of evil. Nothing, however, will be allowed that could ultimately defeat His broadly and carefully crafted plan that contains and controls the universe. We watch our young children learn to walk and observe as they trip in the tufted carpet. We allow them to fall as part of the process of learning to walk. We didn’t plan the fall (or we would have pushed the child over) but we used it as a learning tool to help the child with balance and judgment. On the other hand, we would never have allowed the child to walk into the street hoping nothing bad would happen.
Perhaps it would be good to arrive at some other comprehension of what an omnipotent God may be expected to do, if anything, when circumstances buffet us from pillar to post. I believe that His omnipotence does not imply that everything that happens in life is His will. It is unquestioned that we live in a world where human beings have free will, where we are ignorant, foolish and unfortunately, wicked. As the world shrinks in transportation times needed to move from one nation to another, we are more closely bound to each other than at any time in the world’s history. That binding can mean benefit or disaster. In our societal structure, thousands of things can happen each day or even within an hour that a loving God does not want to happen. In this sense, omnipotence means that nothing can happen, whatever the impetus for such happening might be, that will defeat God’s ability and willingness to teach us that good can come from those things that look to us as evil. Learning to live with maturing faith is the goal set before us and even when we think God has let us down, He is pleased to teach us what we are willing to learn.
In America, we continue to be stunned by people who walk into buildings with guns and kill people who were unfortunately placed. Some say this is God’s will and even though there is no understanding of the act, they insist that God had a purpose. This is strange assertion in that God makes no plans for evil and no plans for human nature turning deadly. It was an act of mental failure or evil intent, but the victims were not to blame. It was murder or manslaughter, but it was not God’s will. It was an act of free-will exercised by one who was filled with evil thoughts or who had lost all reason of behavioral expectation. There was no fault of those killed to be found anywhere, but instant death was the result of a decisive act of mayhem.
The writer, Austin Farrer once penned…. “it was for the best, therefore, that He made a half-chaos of self-moving, brainless forces to be the bottom and soil of His creation, out of which higher forms should arise.” In our world, we always are in the midst of limitless accident scenarios that entrap some while others escape. When such occurs, we must not ascribe the result to God, but to the free-will of mankind to make decisions that often lead to accidents that can alter a lifetime.
It is no good that we attempt to deny or pretend there is no darkness in life. Mystery, horror, pain, frustration, death, illness, etc., will cast the clouds of desperation over most of our heads if we live long enough. When these times arrive, often catching us totally unaware of any impending expectation, it is then that we learn a bit more about ourselves and our genuine faith to believe that God can bring some positive result from a horror show of unexpected explosions within our hearts.
The free-will of mankind always is competing with God’s will and much of what happens in life is permitted by God’s allowance for individual decisions and happenstance. He doesn’t cause it, didn’t plan it and won’t prevent it, but He waits for us to find a way to bring something better from the stagnant waters of our insistence that everything that happens is His will and happens for a reason that often will be never understood.