Is God Always In Control?
Updated: Apr 4, 2019
Over the past few months, as I have tried my best to navigate a sorrowful journey. I have found myself questioning whether or not God really is fully and completely in control.
When bad things happen to us, as Christians we are instantly put at odds with our faith in many ways. We say things like, “Our God is good, so how could he let this happen to me? God said he would slay my enemies and be my rock. God isn’t evil, so he didn’t do this to me. The Devil or sin must be responsible.” In the midst of pain we begin to deny the very nature of our God in order to try and make sense of our circumstance.
As humans, it is our nature to blame. I have gone in and out of blaming God for the death of my son. I have blamed God for not saving Jasper. I have blamed God for letting the pregnancy happen when he knew what the outcome would be. I have blamed my body. I have blamed doctors for not knowing my child was in distress. The blame game is dangerous. But it is very difficult for Christians to blame God for bad things that happen to us. Partially because we wonder if he will retaliate against us, but mostly because we can’t fathom how he would be responsible for such despair.
Once we either place blame, or resolve to not place any, we try to reason our way through our sorrow. What is the purpose for my pain? We have all heard and probably said the words, “Everything happens for a reason.” I hated that statement when my friends and family quoted it to me in hopes it would help make me feel better about the death of my son. It must mean something. And I get where they were coming from. It was to help revive hopefulness in a place of despair. But it wasn’t enough for me.
We then find ourselves asking people around us, “why?” Why did this happen. Honest people will tell you they don’t know. Some will try and tell you that you will be able to reach out to and connect with a broader group of individuals. Pinterest told me through a flowered picture and quote, “That I was assigned this mountain to show others it could be moved.” And to be honest, none of those things make my pain worth it. I would gladly have my son rather than being able to connect with more sad people. I know that may be tough to read, but it’s also tough to write. Because it’s not that I don’t want to help people in pain, its that I love my son more than that.
When people failed to answer the “why” question, I had to go to God. And I asked him, I begged him to tell me why. Crickets. At first I felt abandoned by the lack of answer, but now I realize, who am I to approach the creator of the universe and ask him why he does what he does? I believe it isn’t my place to ask him why. How arrogant of me. I know that the reason we ask why, is because we are searching for a little peace to take the place of pain.
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious in anything, but in everything through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
This scripture reveals to us that peace does not come because of understanding my situation. God’s peace surpasses knowing why something happened. But when my feelings and my mind are spiraling out of control because I don’t have answers, God promises to guard my heart and mind through the sacrifice of his son.
The saying, “Everything happens for a reason,” I believe originates from the scriptures. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” But what is the reason?
God says in Romans 11:36 “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory. Amen.”
Here is the answer! God does everything for his own glory. He heals the sick for his glory (John 11:4) He made us to glorify him (1 Corinthians 31:10) All creation glorifies him (Psalm 19:1, Psalm 95:3-5) He instructs us to do everything we do to glorify him (1 Corinthians 10:31)
When I read these scriptures, it is clear to see that God does everything to glorify himself. But does this mean that he is in control all the time?
While pondering if God is in control of all the disasters that happen in our lives, I couldn’t help but think about Job. Job was God’s faithful and very wealthy servant. The Devil wanted to ruin Job and see if he would still praise the Lord. The Devil sent plagues, killed Job’s family and even stole his entire living. But the key in this story is that even the Devil had to ask permission of God to do these things to Job. God allowed him to, but he told the Devil he could not kill Job. There was a limit to what the Devil could do. Here we see that even sin and evil bow to God’s will.
Matthew 5:45, “So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust.” This scripture tells us that God sends both good and evil our way. He is in control of all the good and all the bad.
I hate to say this… and I would never had said this even a couple months ago, but all these scriptures lead me to believe that God did ordain for my son to die in my womb. God is the author and perfecter of my life and faith. He wrote this pain into my journey on purpose. He is and will always be in complete control. If evil had to bow to God for Job, then so it must also be for me.
The real reason God does what he does is to glorify himself. The death of my son, was to glorify the Lord. All the other reasons, aren't weighty enough to make my suffering worth it. But the glorification of my savior makes it enough.
Now I am led to another question. One that I believe the Lord wants me to ask, “How does the death of my son glorify Him?” That is a question that is birthed from humility and earnest seeking. It is a question, I think I will continue to ask for the rest of my life, and one that God will slowly answer as I age.
Being able to reach out to people may be part of the how, but it’s not the why. Having more compassion for those in pain is part of the how, not the why. Writing a blog in hopes it helps someone is part of the how, not the why. And all those “how’s” help to alleviate the pain. But knowing that everything good and bad in my life is meant for God’s glory brings peace that surpasses my understanding. And somehow I have to accept that truth.
Finally, my thoughts turn to Jesus. I think about when he was on the cross and he never once asked God why he let this happen to him. Jesus was mutilated beyond recognition, murdered in the worst way possible and the only thing Jesus asked God was if there was another way. And we know the answer God gave his son. With some creativity, I imagine it sounded something like this:
Jesus asked, “Is there was another way to save your creation? God said no. You have to go to the cross for Rachel and her son Jasper. Because I know what she will go through, and she needs you to do this for her so that they both can be with me for eternity. And Jesus said, I will do it for Rachel.”
And as I weep thinking about Jesus saying he would die for me and my lost baby, I cannot even begin to imagine how terrible my life would be without the flesh and blood sacrifice of Jesus. God has blessed me beyond measure, and I act as if I have been mistreated by Him because my heart hurts. God sent his own son to die for his glory. God is always in control. It is not for me to know why God does what he does other than to glorify himself.
I will never say, “everything happens for a reason” ever again. But I will say, “Everything happens to glorify the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”