The downside of truly believing that God is Sovereign over everything, as the Psalmist purports in Psalm 135:6: “Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps,” is that you can become quite angry with God. I get that. That’s why most folks don’t want God to ever have ordained anything we would deem bad. And I do understand that. I really do. I just don’t get a vote.
The upside of believing that God isn’t in control of all things and does not ordain anything-or at least most things-is that you will, or should not, ever become angry with Him. For instance, when calamity strikes, it is merely the result of God letting people have their free wills. Since he doesn’t “step on any toes” in regard to free will, you as a result, don’t ever become angry at Him.
Now at first glance, that sounds pretty darn practical, doesn’t it? Rabbi Kushner reflecting on the death of his son When Bad Things Happen to Good People, concluded God is ultimately powerless to stop the evil. God had no part to play, so we can’t get mad at him. And I can see how that is comforting when confronted with a crisis such as that. For a time….Here are some thoughts on trading God’s Sovereignty for “Let Go, Let Man” viewpoint.
1.) Most of the Psalms involve a Psalmist crying out to God to do something. Do something in him. Do something in or with His situation and enemies. While Psalmists struggle with anger, doubts, and questions, they bring the aforementioned to God. He seems to be pretty cool with that kind of thing, you know? You take away the belief God is in control, you take away a pretty large book of the bible.
2.) The Psalms aren’t simply existential meanderings recorded to help us cope with tragedy. They point us to Christ and how to respond and pray for God to actually DO something (and trust Him b/c He has already DONE something in Jesus). A Sovereign God DOES. We need him to DO away with the presence of sin.
3.) If you trade Sovereignty for a “Let Go, Let Man,” attitude you really limit the scope of prayers. For instance, if you believe in complete autonomous free will, you really can’t pray for protection when you drive your car. There are millions of little decisions, distractions, that happen on the road, from singing to texting to the internal struggles of “I hate my boss” on the way to work or school. God can’t protect, because He’s got His hands tied with that whole, “I can’t interfere with their decisions” stuff. If someone is coming to hurt me, I want (or rather need) a God who can override their decisions. I need a God who can step on toes and shut their mouths, change their minds, etc…Don’t you?
Yet when people pray, they pray for judge’s decisions, for the salvation of their neighbor, for their kids to listen and be nice to their friends in school. I don’t know how prayers can truly be effectual without God’s ability to override individual autonomy. I really don’t.
While trading God’s Sovereignty over disasters may be comforting on the short end when tragedy strikes, there are practical long term issues that will keep you from finding comfort in the greatest good God our Father could give us: His Son Jesus.
None of this is intended to be counsel for those currently suffering. It’s only designed to build the framework and lay the foundation for responding to regular trials of which we shouldn’t be surprised (I Peter 4:12).