How involved is God in everyday events?

This is not going to be a theological discussion, but more of a personal observation. I’m still trying to collect my thoughts on the subject, so I haven’t come to a conclusion yet. One often hears the words “God is in control” at church or on the radio. God is the omnipotent creator of the universe, so this statement is undeniably true. Jesus said that God knows the number of hairs on our heads and that he notices when a single sparrow falls to the ground (Matthew 10:24-33).

Yet knowing and actually exercising influence are two entirely different things. I have my doubts as to how involved God really is in the events that go on around us. I’m not a deist. I don’t think that God set everything in motion and then left. Obviously, God does get involved, because he sent Jesus to perform an earthly ministry and die in our place. Many miracles are recorded in both the old and new testaments, so I don’t deny the possibility of miracles, either. However, daily experience teaches me that something is wrong with the picture that I have been led to believe since childhood.

Every day there are tragedies. People suffer, and innocent children die. Consider that sometimes planes crash. When there are survivors, they are not just the Christians that were aboard. Among the dead are Christians and non-Christians alike. Both surely prayed, and yet the survival rate does not suggest that the Christian’s prayer is the one that is heard. The same could be said for cancer patients or murder victims or any other situation in which believers pray. God is not always going to rescue us from our circumstances. If he was obligated to save us every time we prayed, Christians would never die, but alas, we die just like everyone else. That certainly doesn’t stop me from praying everytime I get in an airplane, though. ;)

When bad things happen, they should not be attributed to the direct action of God. (That’s not to say that God cannot punish individuals or nations, but Jesus made it clear in John 9:1-3 that we should not be quick to link misfortunes with punishment.) God created a perfect world. There was no death or suffering. It was man’s sin that brought suffering and death into the world. The natural laws that God set into place mean that cars can crash and babies can drown without his protection.

Such is the result of God being forced to withdraw his protective hand due to our sin; the Bible says that God cannot even look at evil (Habakkuk 1:13). When God sees people suffering I believe he cries, too. Jesus cried when he looked down over Jerusalem from the mountain top. God is an emotional being, and he must suffer when we suffer. So why did God create us even though he knew we would suffer and some would reject him all together? It must be because there is something better in store for us. We can’t know the reasons why God does anything, but we can have faith that his plans are better than ours.

Can God get involved? Absolutely, but I have a feeling that most of the time he does not. This is based on simple observation. The Bible makes it clear that God will act on our prayers, so I’m not denying the influence of prayer on the events around us, but some people believe that God micromanages everything–not only did he create the biological process by which we are born, but he also causes us to breathe and makes sure the oxygen is carried by our blood and circulated throughout our bodies. I can’t dispute that. I just don’t think it’s the case. There is biblical evidence that God is involved in our conception, but I think the micromanaging stops there.

I believe that there are three aspects to God’s will. Namely, his active will, his passive will and his ultimate will. The first category consists of miraculous events. The second is what God chooses to allow to happen. If a child falls out of a window, God allows the natural laws of gravity to work, but it certainly cannot be said that he intended for the child to fall out of the window. His ultimate will is the grand plan that he has for mankind. We may act and make choices within his passive will, but we can never take action that would thwart his ultimate will.

One example I saw in a book which sticks out in my mind (sorry, I forgot the name of the book) is God sending his son to die for our sins. This involves all three aspects of God’s will. First, he sent Jesus to earth in human form. This was his active will. His ultimate will was to provide a means of salvation for mankind. I believe God intended for the world to accept Jesus as savior. It was his passive will, however, that allowed the people of the time to crucify Jesus instead of offering him up as a sacrifice. In the end, he was crucified and died for our sins, so God’s ultimate will was accomplished, albeit not in the manner he had intended.

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