“And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else….So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” – James 1:13,16-17.
A friend was crushed by the sudden and unexpected death of his brother. He described the tragedy as God’s taking his little brother away. The brother was a college student who was just accepted into seminary to get the training he needed to work in the ministry. The brother wondered aloud why God would take his brother away. It begs the question: Was God responsible for his death?
It is easy to believe that everything that happens in our lives is the direct result of God’s action because after all we believe God is in complete control. It would seem logical to profess that God is sovereign over everything and ultimately the cause of everything that happens. The reality is that God does not send evil into our lives. Since every good and perfect gift is from God, the opposite is true.
“O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked” (Psalm 5:4). James 1:13-15 (MSG) says, “Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us.” And Psalm 45:7 says, “You love justice and hate evil…”
God has shown over and over again that He is the God of salvation and life. While Jesus was on the earth He healed the sick, identified with the oppressed, cleansed the lepers, preached good news to the poor, and raised the dead to life. In the suffering and death on the cross, Christ took upon Himself the pain and evil of this world. God suffered the worst hatred and rejection the world could dish out, and God triumphed over it.
The pain and evil in this world are very real. And God’s power and sovereignty are often more hidden than obvious. Yet God does not have to directly control or cause every individual event in history in order to maintain His sovereignty or advance His kingdom. God will achieve His purposes in spite of humanity’s best efforts to the contrary. So even though we may at times be overwhelmed by pain and struggle, we know that God can bring blessing and healing out of our experiences. Even though we cannot see God’s providential care at work, we can trust that somehow behind and beyond the appearances of evil, God is working out His sovereign plan.
We know God can be trusted, no matter what comes our way. We may not understand why He allows some things to happen — but we can trust in God’s love and mercy and goodness. We know this is true because Jesus Christ has demonstrated God’s love and mercy to us.
- Do you believe that God is responsible for everything that happens or doesn’t happen?
- Which experiences in your life have made you wonder if God is really in charge or question why God would allow them to happen at all?
- How does our experience of suffering and evil relate to God’s work of redemption? Is there a connection? How does it play out in your experience?