Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Suffering: God's sovereignty and man's responsibility

 We're continuing to think through the reality of suffering and trying to make sense of it all. Without a firm grasp on the inevitability of suffering and what scripture has to say about it we will be caught by surprise and left defenseless when it comes. It is in our best interest and the interests of others to think critically about suffering so that we are prepared to stand when the battle reaches our land.

In order to deal with tough issues like these many are prone to abandon the truth of God's sovereignty and allowance of such evils. They contend that we must be active in fighting against the forces of darkness. I agree. But then they deny that God holds the future in His hand and is actively directing the steps of man. They blame the forces of evil for all forms of suffering and deny that God is willfully allowing it to happen for His own purpose and pleasure. They join with the mockers of God and say "if Satan is God's devil and can only do what he is allowed to do then God is responsible for Satan's actions". Not so. Joseph's life is a testimony to that fact. Job, also. What Satan means for evil, God means for good and both are happening at the same time in the same way. It boggles the mind.

There are others that hold fast to the sovereignty of God but see themselves as helpless in the battle. They figure God has it all planned out anyway and He is gonna do whatever He wants to do. Again we have only a half-truth if this is our mindset. Yes, God is in control and He has all the works set before us as part of His plan but we must walk in those works. Like Jesus we must be actively working where we see our Father working.

Rather than being kind of crippled by recognizing God's sovereignty it should empower us and give us enough faith to fill a mustard bottle.  With that mustard bottle we are called to actively engage in the battle between two kingdoms.   It's just as foolish to think we can win a war with a mustard bottle as it is that we can change the world by preaching a message.  It seems foolish but we must always remain mindful that we are completely dependent on God to do the work through us.

We shouldn't ignore the scriptures that reassure us of God's complete control over His predetermined will for creation or the ones that call for our active involment in bringing about the either/or's that God places before us.  One doesn't trump the other.  Both are at play here, God will do exactly what He planned to do and He will do so exactly how He planned to do it = through the faithful prayers and actions of humans.  God is soveriegn AND man is responsible.

What about you, do you tend to lean to one side more than the other?

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