Monday, September 20, 2004

Trite Platitudes & Heretical Questions

I just shook my head the other day when checking another board I post on. A member had lost a beloved pet, and intending to comfort her, another member (a Christian) said "Well, everything happens for a reason." Then someone at church said to me on Sunday (after hearing our carpet was ruined by flooding), "Well, God must have had His hand on you; it could have been much worse."

I just don't know if I can take those statements at face value. Does every single thing that happens have a God-ordained purpose in my life? Was God's hand not on the person who lost everything?

I guess there's a fine line between believing in the sovereignty of God and blaming everything on Him. This has been on my mind for a few days now. I know that what I believe doesn't really make a bit of difference, so I turned to Romans 8, home of the famous "all things work together" verse. I found the NIV to be enlightening: "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." What a difference from the KJV which simply says "all things work together." As if by some mysterious force, all things eventually intertwine themselves in such a way as to ultimately benefit me.

But does God actually preordain every single event in my life? Why did some people lose their houses this past weekend in the Pittsburgh floods, while others escaped with little or no damage? Was God's hand on us in that our home was not completely destroyed? Or just partially, since our new carpet was ruined? Is God responsible for everything that happens, good and bad?

To say He simply set the world in place and can only intervene would limit His sovereignty. But couldn't such an almighty, sovereign God create a world that could hold together without His constant intervention? Didn't He create the earth to operate so that it maintains its unique climate? Doesn't the amazing human body perform more functions, unbeknownst to most, in one day than many people do on their jobs?

I guess my answer to these questions, from what I can tell from Scripture, is that God can work anyway He wants to. I don't believe that every bad thing is from His hand. But He is sovereign over all things. I can believe He is working in all things. Most importantly, He is working in my life to bring about HIS good . . . His perfect plan and purpose. But since I have only the slightest idea what the complete picture looks like, it is left to me to simply trust Him day by day.

Well, I'd say God got a lot of mileage out of these floods, if nothing else but to help solidify my belief in His sovereignty!

1 comment:

EmailGuy said...

These are good questions. I used to have the answers, but am not so sure anymore. The trite platitudes have irritated me for some time. They're especially obnoxious when someone is quoting a Bible verse as a platitude, as if that's supposed to change your circumstances. It seems like abusing the Word to do that.

For a lot of things these days I just say "God had nothing to do with it!" That might sound almost atheistic, but when some local nutjob kidnaps a couple kids and people say "Why did God let that happen?" and someone says "God has a purpose in it." I just want to say "God has nothing to do with it! Some nutjob did what he did and that's all there is to it."