Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: About this time last year at two of my client churches, the lectionary required that I speak on the Book of Job. Subsequently, I preached a sermon titled, “Why bad things happen to good people.” My friend and colleague, Dr. Ken Schenck, delves into this topic deeper, but clearly, in his post today. For an introduction to the differences between God’s permissive will and God‘s directive will, take a look at his article.
by Ken Schenck, The Common Denominator, 3/22/20.
…Here is a good illustration of growing precision within the pages of the Old Testament. “God has no grandchildren”–our eternal fate is a matter of our individual relationship to God, not that of our parents. It goes the other way as well–our eternal judgment is not a matter of our parents either.
There are still consequences to sin in this life, of course. If a mother takes drugs while pregnant, God may not intervene to protect the unborn child from the consequences. The child of an alcoholic parent may still have to deal with the psychological consequences of growing up in that environment.
The book of Job brings out the complexity of the situation. Job suffers even though he has not sinned. He never finds out why in the pages of the book. God comes to him at the end and basically tells him that understanding the situation is above his pay grade. Here is the final answer to the problem of suffering. God is in control. God is good and knows what is happening. We will never fully understand. We must simply have faith that “the judge of all the earth will do what is right” (Gen. 18:25).
Of course we know that Satan has made a wager with God from Job 1-2. Job never finds this out. In my Wesleyan theology, this is a good example of the fact that much of the suffering that happens in the world is a matter of God’s permissive will rather than his directive will. That is to say, God does not directly order everything that happens.
God is sovereign. Nothing happens without God’s permission. God is in control. God signs off on everything. But God gives some degree of freedom to the creation. God gives some degree of freedom to humanity and to the natural order. God knows what will happen, but he does not dictate everything that will happen.
There is of course a competing view, the idea that “everything happens for a reason.” There is the Calvinist view that God specifically directs everything that happens. In my view, this makes God the author of evil. It makes the statement that God is love meaningless.
… In all this I remember that death is not so powerful in the face of Christ. Death has no victory over us! In my own journey with the problem of evil and suffering, a key conclusion has been that I give too much credit to death and suffering, as if they are a big deal.
God is a big deal. I am only a big deal because God loves me. My death is only a big deal because I am one of the sparrows God watches over.
So I will take precautions. I will be vigilant. I will heed the advice of experts. I will pray for my leaders. I will pray for others.
But in the end, “The LORD is with me. I will not be afraid what a mortal [or a virus] might do to me.”
Read Dr. Schenck’s three more points at … https://kenschenck.blogspot.com/2020/03/is-covid-19-gods-judgment.html?m=1