If God Is Good...

Then Why...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by | Jan 15, 2018 | Articles, Faith, Life, Popular | 15 comments

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 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 raptly, wanting and needing 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, saying, “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 God’s 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 a disparity between the idea that God is in control and God is good.

At the time, I had a misunderstanding regarding God’s nature, his sovereignty. I believed God was in control.

The premise that God is in control can’t 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…

Or in the case of my friend, a good God who would allow child abuse so He can work it all for good.

This 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 God’s sovereignty through the premise of control. I want to define it the way Jesus revealed it—as Love. Jesus revealed that Love has all authority and that every control of need was answered in the authority of Love.

God is love, and that’s what makes Him sovereign.

Love redeems, restores, heals, empowers, and transforms. Love trumps every controlling need this fallen world and the enemy of our souls throw 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 God’s nature. I would challenge the premise. I would tell her that God is not in control; 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.

I would tell her God is love and His love is always good. Always.

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, 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, and every controlling need.

It is my heart’s desire that someday Google will have a new answer. When asked about the goodness of God, I hope Google will report stories of the church revealing the authority of Love–a love that redeems and restores and miraculously meets every controlling need. May we, the church, discover and live out this love that does not control, that is not against, that does not condemn and works all things for good.

This article is excerpted from Jason’s book, God Is (Not) In Control


Jason Clark
is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.

15 Comments

  1. Sue Moran

    If God is love & does not manipulate or use evil. Then how do you exlain his actions in the Old Testament? Wars, rape, & the like.

    Reply
  2. HK

    I, too, have grappled with this but what I’ve had to admit to myself was that if God is love, and is all powerful, and all knowing and DIDNT stop suffering, pain, evil etc – but could in an instant if he wanted to… then he was a cruel god. The Bible says that god is a better father to us than any earthly parent. So let’s answer honestly: if you had the power to completely eradicate your child’s pain and suffering, but didn’t… would you consider yourself a good and loving parent? Would you consider a parent a good one if they didn’t use EVERY resource they possessed to help their child? I wouldn’t. As a parent myself I know I would do whatever it takes to ensure their health and safety. Why aren’t we seeing these attributes in this supposedly loving Heavenly Father?

    These are the questions I asked myself after over a decade of intense pain and suffering. It was that moment when I realized that the mere fact that if this mysterious god ISNT instantly taking away the suffering of the world (because he could if he wanted to) means that my moral code for what constitutes as a loving parent/deity is higher and greater than that of the ideology and concept of the Christian god and all the theology that surrounds this topic. I was potentially a better parent than god in this respect. How could this be?

    How can we say god is loving if he’s not doing something to help when supposedly he can do anything he wants anytime he wants? If he’s all powerful and does nothing, he is NOT ALL loving. He’s actually very neglectful.

    If a person is loving, he/she shows up. If a person wants to have a real relationship with me, he/she shows up. In real time. Shouldn’t god be even more reliable than us fallible humans? Why do we think we have to settle for some goosebump feeling that he’s “here” instead of at the very least demanding the instant healing his Word so promised?!

    “ANYTHING you ask in my name will be given to you.” -Jesus
    That’s a lofty promise that’s been letting us all down for centuries. Why won’t we wake up and see that?

    For some reason the Christian god doesn’t have to FULLY deliver on his promises ??‍♀️ – and our incredible minds that want comfort of belief so badly search high and low to find vague nuances of this “loving god” in anything and anywhere and have become SATISFIED by that enough to not question why we really aren’t receiving the fullness of god in Christ we have been promised. Have we become beggars to the god we long to believe is here for us?

    Some well known pastor’s get around this by making the excuse that god wants us to go find him like a big fun game of hide and seek! That sounds lighthearted and fun until you are the child in dire need and your parent is instead insisting on playing a game and not attending to your needs.

    I’m sorry, but your cognitive dissonance on this one is showing loudly. I am not a bitter ex Christian, I’m not angry at god. No, I’m angry at myself for believing in something that truly has zero real time evidence to support and back its claims. Especially after all the love, support, time and musical talent I gave to further the “Father’s” cause. I’m sad that it all seems like I wasted so much of my life supporting it.

    I’m a human who just thinks god needs to show up physically REAL and actually be miraculous, and actually heal everyone who is suffering because his love for them couldn’t bare to see them in pain. I know if I had the power to, I would instantly eradicate poverty and sickness off this planet. Why should we expect less from some divine power we are told just spoke ONE word and light came from nothing?! Why do we keep making excuses for him when he isn’t really delivering?

    Let me tell you, having done everything the Bible and god’s holy men said was needed to receive my healing and NOT receiving it from the one Person whom I believed loved me so much as if I were his favorite…. is utterly devastating. It’s more than devastating; it’s life shattering. To be expected to be ok with crumbs from his table that turn out to be happenstances that are more coincidental than they truly have any solid evidence to support coming from a divine place… when what you needed is a full on feast to satisfy your starvation, when there was no reason for me to keep this kind of unknowingly self inflicted heart break happening to me over and over and over again. I did find the answer to end that particular form of suffering – I changed my beliefs and instantly the pain of feeling betrayed by a loving father went away – because I no longer needed him to be real.

    Some say pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. In this regard it was true for me. I might be in horrific pain, but I didn’t have to continue suffering the heartbreak of being let down day after day after day by who I thought of as my intimate best friend. In that sense, I rescued myself from the suffering. As far as the pain goes, I’m grateful to modern medicine to help aid in lessening it for me.

    I’m very happy to have ended a great deal of the suffering that came along with the pain just by changing my mind to only know and understand things that have real evidence to support it – and no longer choose to “believe by faith without sight.” In this way, doubting Thomas is my most favorite disciple now. I appreciate his honesty in wanting to experience the REAL physical reality of it all. In that story he got what he needed (and sadly was reprimanded for it) and by that we are subliminally taught not to expect god to show up for REAL in our physical reality because somehow the Bible says I’m more blessed if I believe and do NOT see. I call bullshit on that one now after 32 years of constant “no shows.”

    Jason, keep digging, seeking and searching while trying to make sense of it all. Your persistence is def a beautiful personality trait – but don’t lose sight of realizing that sometimes maybe there are no answers to this question within the Christian context that truly satisfies rationale because it truly is all circular reasoning. But once realize this we are free to start to look for answers outside of the Christian bubble and begin to see things in a way we never were able to before. That’s when a whole new adventure opens up to us! So keep on keeping on!! You will get there if you don’t stop. ❤️

    Lots of love to you on your journey❤️

    Reply
    • jason clark

      HK,

      You well articulate what I believe many have felt. I appreciate your vulnerability and the gentleness of your tone.

      This article is taken from the first several pages of a book I’ve written on the great love of God. It only begins to highlight the problem you have so clearly written about.

      This book is not my defense of God’s love, it’s my revelation. I too have tasted heartbreak and sorrow, and He loves me. I have cried out in confusion and pain, and He loves me. I have tasted great disappointment, and He loves me, I have experienced dark nights of the soul beyond my ability to comprehend, and He loves me.

      I am growing convinced of what Paul wrote in Romans, nothing can ever separate me from God’s love. Death or life, angels or demons, fears or worries —not even the powers of hell can separate me from His love.

      And you know what else, not even my limited understanding of His sovereignty can separate me from His love. As you say, I am His favorite 🙂 And I am confident that you are too.

      I love your encouragement to keep digging. I want to offer you the same encouragement – and if you want to read a little more of what I dug up, here is a link to download the book. By the way, I wrote about Thomas (he is one of my favorites as well and for similar reasons).

      https://payhip.com/dashboard?l=1

      I pray a great revelation of His love.

      Reply
  3. Lacy

    If everything you were saying was irrefutably proven false but you still found value in following the Christian prescription anyway, would you tell the world or just continue living your own life in peace?

    Another way of asking this is, can you really be a Christian if you’re not busy converting others to Christianity?

    Reply
    • jason clark

      Hey Lacy, not really following your questions, sorry. Maybe this will help.

      I think those who are best at loving others are those who have experienced being loved. The Bible says it this way, "we love because we are first loved." I think the fruit of experiencing God’s great love is living as an expression of His love. Christianity isn’t about converting people to a certain ideology, or set of principles, it’s about revealing the perfection Of God’s love.

      Hope that answers your question.
      Blessing

      Reply
  4. bill (cycleguy)

    bill (cycleguy) on May 2, 2014 at 11:32 pm (Edit)
    Have to admit Jason this is new to me and for me to think about. I have always said God is in control. But after reading your book and this post, I can see how that can be misconstrued into manipulation and puppetry. Like I said, this is a radically new thought for me. Thanks for challenging me.

    Reply
    • Jason Clark

      jasonclarkis on May 3, 2014 at 2:38 am (Edit)
      Thanks for the comment Bill. I held my breath when I hit “post” on this article. I have ruffled some feathers with this thought over the past couple of years. My heart isn’t to offend, and I absolutely believe in the sovereignty of God. I simply believe I am presenting a possible lens change – from control to authority.
      I once heard an analogy that described the difference between control and authority – A policeman has authority but needs to pull his gun out to get control. I know that analogy isn’t perfect when it comes to God but it does capture the heart of what I am trying to convey in this article.

      The sovereignty of God is a vast and beautiful subject of which we will spend eternity discovering. But I’ll tell ya, this new perspective has radically transformed and empowered every aspect of my life. The more I read the word, the more I discover that Love is bigger and better than I thought it was. Ultimately, thats all I want to communicate.

      Reply
  5. Clark Grey Howell

    Clark Grey Howell on May 3, 2014 at 6:30 pm (Edit)
    Sovereignty does not equal control where authority is delegated or usurped.
    Too many decades were wasted buying into the Satan’s lie (that Father, because of His action or inaction, is responsible for this world’s injustices) before digesting the truth of that first statement. Now a part of the mission is to eradicate the lie from all who are willing to resolve the cognitive dissonance created by trying to concurrently hold God is love, God is in control and He allows injustice/ evil to persist.

    Once I grasped the nature of delegated authority and Holy Spirit power in me God was no longer to blame for persistent injustice–we Christians are. That bit of truth changes everything and for everyone.

    Thanks for the post.

    Reply
    • Jason Clark

      jasonclarkis on May 3, 2014 at 11:42 pm (Edit)
      Delegated authority!! Oh man, that’s a beautiful and empowering truth! Thanks for the comment Clark, one of these days we should grab a coffee – would love to get to know you better.

      Reply
  6. Steve Scheffler

    Steve Scheffler on May 3, 2014 at 7:36 pm (Edit)
    Wow, so well said! I too have been guilty of pouring the lie into the cup of disbelief. It was truly giving our God a poor excuse in His manner of Lording over all things. The Bible actually tells us that He is seated at the right hand of the Father UNTIL ALL HIS ENEMIES are under His feet. We are, the Church that is, the FEET that He has washed. We are the MESSAGE to a DYING world! We must see that everything in the hands of man will continually move him towards his own demise. It is destined that way because all that man does MUST FAIL! The Tree of the KNOWLEDGE of GOOD and EVIL is the power behind all decisions made by man. That is why man is CAPABLE of doing GOOD. But man’s GOOD is perhaps the worst enemy of God’s BEST! Tribulations of every sort will continue UNTIL Christ is truly LORD over all. By our giving up our rights and citizenship of this natural realm and coming under the divine authority and Lordship of our Savior, believing and praying that the WILL of GOD be done in the earth just as it is being done in heaven, we will see the world delivered of its bondage. The CREATION longs for the BIRTH of the SONS of the Kingdom. The Creation KNOWS that when that happens, and only when that happens will the creation itself come into the liberty that all mankind longs for. “Be in us Father to be the Saints from another realm that depict through our lives the great freedom from bondage of sin that only YOU can bring!” Thanks for sharing this great truth! I am all the more convinced that you are right and I’ve been very wrong for a very long time.

    Reply
    • Jason Clark

      Saints from another realm – amen. Oh to grow surer as His son, surer in His love and living surer from heavens perspective!
      Thanks for the comment, Steve!
      Blessings

      Reply
  7. CL

    CL on May 21, 2014 at 1:51 pm (Edit)
    Hi Jason! I agree that God does not cause suffering. I agree that He is love, that He is always good. I agree that He works all things to our good. I tend to believe though that God does ALLOW (not cause) suffering. I believe He has the authority to stop suffering but doesn’t always (which seems to contradict your saying He is not in control). Partially due to man’s free will and the natural result of a fallen world. I can see how an unbeliever would see that a God who sees suffering coming but doesn’t stop it couldn’t possibly be loving. I have my own conclusions of how these two can coexist: a loving God who allows suffering. We see in Job that God allows Satan to cause suffering for Job. There are scriptures in the NT that talk about how suffering matures us, perfects us, produces endurance, etc. I interpret that as He loves us enough to allow suffering to happen to us because it will ultimately draw us to Him, make us more like Jesus, give us the endurance to continue in the faith to the end (which would ultimately be best for me). That He can use those circumstances to bring about His perfect will. And that perfect will is always loving and always good.
    I sincerely wonder though your view on this. I’m not asking to debate you, but because I’m really trying to learn. I’m still working it all out in my heart. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Jason Clark

      jasonclarkis on May 23, 2014 at 8:13 pm (Edit)
      Hey Camille,
      Thanks for the amazingly gracious response!

      I’m with ya, I’m not much into debate and it’s my heart that anyone I interact with feels free to disagree.

      This blog is a snapshot of some of the thoughts I’ve wrestled with and written about for some time now.

      There is a lot of tension on that word control. My primary issue is when the word control is used to suggest God is complicit in the evils of this world. I think the word control has often been misappropriated to partner Gods nature with the result of the fall.

      We are often faced with both the consequences of living outside of how we have been designed and the reality of living in a fallen world. Both can be miss-interpreted to suggest God has a controlling nature.

      Below are some of my thoughts excerpted from an article I am currently writing. I don’t know if it will answer any of the tensions you noted but there maybe some good thoughts in it ☺

      Thanks again for posting your thoughts!

      One of the ways God gets labeled as controlling is through our misunderstanding regarding consequences.

      When I give my kids a choice between obedience and consequences they might feel like I am controlling them, but I’m not. I have given them a choice. I love them and I am inviting them to live empowered and free. They have the choice to trust me or not.

      My greatest desire is that they know who they truly are and live empowered in my and our Heavenly Fathers love and resources. I don’t focus much on consequences but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any.

      Consequences are simply the byproduct of choosing to live outside of how we are designed, how our Father sees us.

      Many experience consequences and then misappropriate a controlling nature on God.

      Consequences don’t prove a controlling God, just the opposite; they are part of the structure by which we are free to choose life, love, truth, mercy, grace, kindness and every wonder we have been created for.

      Another way God gets labeled as controlling is when something doesn’t go how we believe it should.

      When I scooped up my two-year-old just before she walked off a steep drop she absolutely felt controlled. She arched her back, kicked her legs, and screamed her frustration. She would have described me as controlling and she would have been both right and wrong. Yes, she felt controlled, but it is an immature perspective and certainly not the true story.

      I did step in, I did stop her, but my heart was never control, it was love. I actually saved her.

      In my opinion, “control” is the narrowest lens through which to describe God. It takes the least amount of faith and doesn’t take into account Gods perspective.

      It suggests just the opposite of the true story and if believed will hamper the maturing process.

      Believing God is about control is human reasoning at its best. Is it true? I suppose… if you look at it solely from a child’s perspective. But is it the true story?

      Reply

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