Thanking God for the Bad

right-way-wrong-way1Author and Speaker Merlin Carothers tells of a woman who asked for prayer concerning her daughter. Her daughter was not “following the Lord,” as church people say; in fact she was an exotic dancer at a strip club.  Before joining the mother in prayer, Carothers encouraged the her to thank God for her daughter’s current lifestyle. But the woman immediately recoiled at the thought. She insisted that it was not proper to thank God for the devil’s work.

Carothers has devoted his life to one central message: Praise God for all things. But like the woman in this story, many of us may find it difficult obeying such a message. Of course the act itself is not difficult, but as Carothers notes, doing so sincerely will be difficult if we are not convinced of a deeper truth; namely: That God is responsible for all circumstances in our lives, not just the good stuff, but also the bad stuff, also, and that He is using all of it for our good.

The difficulty for many will be that one phrase, “but also the bad stuff.” But if it is true that God is using even the bad things in our lives for our good, and He is in some way responsible for it, this has profound theological implications.

And if Carothers is correct, it also means the difference between seeing personal breakthrough and missing out, on being in full cooperation with God’s plans, and falling short in lack of faith.

So this is the question I wish to explore over the next few posts: Is God, or is He not, responsible for all circumstances in our lives, including the bad things? I look forward to your responses.

2 thoughts on “Thanking God for the Bad

  1. I think that perhaps a formula is in operation here… and by formula I mean two different things… yes possibly the cliche formula where one is trying to replace an ongoing interpersonal relationship with God with a set of rules, but more likely a formula in that it is a mixture of a couple of different things combined together to create something else. Yes, God is completely powerful in every way, yes we have free will, yes faith is positive. While I believe that God would rather have sincerity and honesty then a formula, I do believe that choosing to be thankful in difficult circumstances changed one’s perspective from despair to hope. It releases stress and puts one’s perspective toward the power of God rather than the circumstances. One puts oneself in a position of trust and expectation of goodness rather than defeat. Is God responsible for the terrible circumstances because he sees a greater good? Possibly. More likely it is a result of free will and evil. Being thankful to me says God you are so amazing that even you could bring good out of this, so much so that I can even be thankful for it. Is it perfect theology? Probably not but I think the reason it is so effective is that it is better than most peoples responses to these kind of circumstances. And I would rather have a slightly imperfect or vague theology that helps me to have a better life then to be stuck in a very flawed theology of negativity. I think that a more perfect theology might be to thank God for who he is and what he has done already, have faith that he is greater than any temporary circumstance and that he has answers and power to help and that he cares, and to pray for his help in difficult circumstances with the belief that he is listening and will act. I think just being thankful for the bad circumstances can be a way to bypass our negativity and jump start our faith when we are not able to believe God like we should.

  2. Thank you Karyn for your thoughtful response! You bring up a number of points we shall be exploring over the next few weeks.

    I especially like your point that it is better to affirm God’s sovereignty and goodness in every situation, even if that leaves some questions unanswered, than the alternative. I agree with you that doing so makes us better people. Not only this, we are made better people because what we are affirming is the Truth.

    Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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