The Good, the Bad, and the Almighty

In our past post, we asked the probing question: Is God responsible for all circumstances in our lives, including the bad things? Many would say no, mainly because it seems to suggest God Himself is not that good of a guy. We wish to protect Him from such a charge, if not in the public arena, then at least in our own minds. We wish to keep Him limited to the good things.

Some may even quote scripture to back this claim. For example, it is Jesus that said, “The thief (devil) has come to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” This certainly speaks to God’s intention for humanity, and also the devil’s. But many take it to mean it speaks to His sovereignty, also. That is, when bad things happen, God is not responsible at all. That is, He had no say or part in it coming to pass. Such a view of God, though it may seem good, is very small. It makes Him out to be not so much supreme over all of creation, but instead powerless over a great part of creation.

To illustrate this, consider the following. Imagine a fatal car accident in which a drunk driver kills a small child. Who is responsible? Clearly, the drunk driver is. But now imagine you later discover that at the scene of the accident just before it happened, a bystander saw the drunk driver approaching and knew the child was in danger, but chose to do nothing. Who now is responsible? Only the drunk driver? No. Both the drunk driver and the bystander. Of course the bystander is not responsible in the same way that the drunk driver is responsible. The bystander did not commit the act of violence. Nonetheless, most would agree the bystander shares in some responsibility. In fact anyone at the scene of the accident would be regarded as responsible to the extent he or she was aware of the approaching danger and had the ability to do something about it.

The same principle holds true in our own lives. When bad things happen, we can always know God’s intention toward us — that we might have life, and have it abundantly. But to say God is only responsible for the good in life is to suggest He is either unaware of a great part of creation or powerless to do anything about it. In our attempt to make God only good, we end up only making Him small.

Of course: God is already good. According to Scripture, He is perfectly good and just. And we do not have to fear He is otherwise.

In this brief discussion, we have used the term “responsible” to describe God’s role in and connection with the difficulties that befall us, which is accurate but at the same time misleading. When we hear the word responsible, we can think blame.

But we are not looking to blame God. What we are emphasizing here is that the God before whom not a single sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge is intimately involved in the minutest details of our lives, even those that are difficult. He is not only in them but before them and also beyond them, allowing, even orchestrating, circumstances for our good, who love God and are called according to His purpose. Therefore, in whatever situation we find ourselves, it is not the mercy of any other, but Himself, upon which we can rest.

In the next few posts, we shall explore God’s role in difficult circumstances and what it says about His character.

But what do you think? Is God responsible for all of life, or only a part? If all of life, does this mean necessarily He is not good? What then can it mean? I welcome your thoughts.

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