If I type into Google’s search bar, “If God is good...” Google will finish my search with the following suggestions. …why is there suffering
…why do bad things happen
…why is there evil
These questions reveal something sad and devastating - most Google users (which means pretty much everyone) believe a lie about the nature of God. The lie? God is in control…
In my early twenties I had a conversation with a co-worker friend of mine who wanted to know about my faith. This girl didn’t know Jesus, she didn’t know about His always-good love. So I told her about Him.
I spoke with passion and power. She listened rapt, she wanted and needed to believe me; I could see it in her eyes.
But then she asked me the question. It’s the question Google gets all the time.
“If God is good, why do bad things happen?”
She wasn’t asking to be confrontational. She was sincere. It was clearly a question she had agonized over. It seemed to me she was desperate for an answer. She wanted to believe that a good God loved her.
I had no answer. In fact, if I’d been truly honest, I was conflicted with the same question.
But I responded the same way many well-meaning Christians have when faced with the question.
“God is in control.” I said.
Then I continued with the sledgehammer of misunderstood scripture, “and He works all things for good” (Rom 8:8).
It was meant to be comforting. It wasn’t. My answer was anemic at best, destructive at worst. And I knew it. Something wasn’t lining up.
She looked utterly disappointed, a heavy weight crushing her soul. I watched her shift from hope, to sorrow and then anger.
“I can’t follow a God who allows child abuse!” She said with force. She described the darkest evil this world knows and I felt her confused and angry grief like a fist to the jaw.
I think somewhere along the way she experienced the devastating horror of a broken fallen world and I had just told her a good and loving God was responsible for it. My attempt to share Gods good love had only cemented her resistance to Him.
Even though I couldn’t have articulated it at the time, I instinctively knew my answer contradicted my premise. There was disparity in the idea that God is in control and God is good.
At the time I had a misunderstanding regarding Gods nature, His sovereignty. I believed God was in control.
The premise that God is in control cant help but raise the Google questions – then why does He allow evil, suffering and bad things?
That premise forced me to bend scripture to redefine His “working all things to good.”
“A good God who wants control of our lives and will partner with evil to get it; a good God who will compromise our freedom by manipulating evil circumstances to gain our affections; a good God who will allow love to be distorted and perverted to capitalize on our needs; a good God who is an accessory to murder, starvation, sickness, and poverty so that we would know He loves us,”(1) a good God who would allow child abuse so He can work it all for good.
“The contradiction to His nature is of epic proportions. It can’t be further from the truth.” God is either good or He is in control, it can’t be both.
God is not in control. God is Love.
The premise that God is in control manipulates His nature into something contrary to love. There are no manipulations, no ulterior motives, no compromises; He is always good, He loves us and wants us to live powerfully free and in all the authority He won for us through His death and resurrection.
For centuries much of the church has defined Gods sovereignty through the premise of control. I want to define it the way Jesus revealed it - as Love. And Jesus revealed that Love has all authority. Jesus revealed that every control of need was answered in the authority of love.
God is love and that's what makes Him sovereign.
And Love redeems, restores, heals, empowers, and transforms. Love trumps every controlling need this fallen world and the enemy of our souls throws at us. Love is the answer to disappointment, devastation, and abuse. Love empowers freedom to choose to be loved, to trust love, and to become love.
If I could talk to my co-worker friend today, I would apologize for how I misrepresented Gods nature. I would challenge the premise. I would tell her that God is not in control. That love doesn’t operate that way. I would tell her that God has nothing to do with the evils of this world; or the devastation of sin. I would tell her He plays no part in the destruction of humanity.
Then I would tell her of the wonder of Jesus love, a Love that “works all things to good.” Not because Love controls but because Love has all authority and relentlessly redeems, always restores, and powerfully resurrects. I would tell her that Love can be trusted because Love is revealed perfectly in Jesus. I would tell her how Love trumps every disappointment, every evil, every controlling need.
It is my hearts desire that someday Google will have a new premise.
Jason Clark is a singer/songwriter, author, speaker, and pastor. Jason’s passion is to know the love of God more each day. He lives to see a generation step into their identity as sons and daughters of the King and establish His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. Jason’s new book Prone To Love is available now.
(1) - excerpt taken from Prone To Love