There is a view in the Protestant world that stretches the sovereignty of God beyond its biblical limitations. This view says that God is not just in control of everything but that He controls everything. The prior view acknowledges that everything on Earth happens under God’s watchful eye, although not necessarily with God’s approval. The latter view holds everything happens by God’s approval.
This latter view is warped, because it makes God morally responsible for the evil that is perpetrated by man, like rape and murder. But if God is not responsible for the incidences of rape and murder (and other “lesser” acts of evil), then God does not control every behavior that happens here on Earth.
A similar point is to be made. I have heard even Christians say that “God does things to teach us a lesson and that God takes our lives when He sees it appropriate.” I strongly agree that God might be teaching us a lesson and that it is possible for God to take someone’s life. But I strongly disagree with the idea that “everything happens for a reason.” Where is the Scripture for that view?
God does not always cause or allow events to happen to us to “teach us a lesson.” If an evil man rapes a little girl, did God allow that to happen to teach that little girl a lesson? Did He allow it to happen to teach her parents a lesson? I do not find that type of teaching in the Bible. God does allow evil in the world but He does not necessarily control every event for a specific purpose. “[T]ime and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
What God does require of us, whether we experience good or evil in this life, is to love Him supremely and serve our fellow man sacrificially (Matthew 22:37-39). He wants us to trust Him (Romans 8:28). We should not necessarily look for a “specific reason” in every experience. Rather, we need to trust God that He will bring things together for our good.
Nor does God actively take the life of someone because it was their “time.” Frequently, at the funeral of a child, you might hear someone say, “God wanted a rose for His garden so He plucked ‘so-and-so.’” I simply do not believe that is biblical. I do not find in the Scriptures where God has a certain time appointed for the death of any individual (although He has knowledge of the time of our death.) Can God take someone’s life? Yes! Can God prolong someone’s life on Earth for some reason? Yes! Does He do it in every situation? Again, there is no Scriptural support to conclude that.
It is appointed unto man to die (Hebrews 9:27), but the Scriptures do not say God has an appointed time for each individual man to die. To suggest that God actively took someone’s life can leave people, especially children, bitter toward God for taking their loved one. Why give that person a reason to doubt the love of God when Scriptures do not require for us to have such view?
It is far better to admit we do not always know how and why God does what He does (Isaiah 55:11), and then simply point out that we have to trust God to always do the right thing (1 John 4:8).
Copyright © 2015 by Paul Holland, in Droplets of Living Water, November 5.