Whenever something heinous or stupid happens unexpectedly I often hear believers in Yeshua say “God is in control” as a way to offer hope and comfort to others.
Your family died? Don’t worry, “God is in control.” Did you lose your job? Don’t worry, “God is in control.” Are you seriously ill? Don’t worry, “God is in control.” No matter what happens, the same pat answer is considered a fix for anything. It may sound nice and spiritual but no, God is not in control of everything. That is not Biblical. If God was in control when God said “But do not eat from the tree of learning of good and bad. For the day you eat from it you will die for sure.” Genesis 2:17 humans would have listened. There is no Biblical reason to believe that God is in control of everything that happens on earth.
The Torah states, “‘See, I have put in front of you today life and what is good, and death and what is bad. I tell you today to love the Lord your God. Walk in His ways. Keep all His Laws and all that He has decided. Then you will live and become many...But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but leave to worship other gods and serve them, I tell you today that you will die for sure.…I have put in front of you life and death, the good and the curse. So choose life so you and your children after you may live.’” Deuteronomy 30:14-19. We know God even gives Satan freedom to choose to do evil. We see this in the book of Job.
Not all bad things happen because the person it happened to was particularly wicked. Sometimes things just happen and God sees fit to allow defective genes and other results of living in a fallen planet to take its natural course. “As Yeshua passed along, he saw a man blind from birth. His talmidim asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned—this man or his parents — to cause him to be born blind?’ Yeshua answered, ‘His blindness is due neither to his sin nor to that of his parents; it happened so that God’s power might be seen at work in him.’” John 9:1-3. God’s power can still be seen in the midst of misfortune when we trust in Him, but that does not mean God personally makes everything happen.
So we should move away from claiming God is in control whenever something bad happens. That misunderstanding is why so many people reject God in the first place. People reason that if there is a good God and God is powerful, bad things wouldn’t happen, because they mistakenly confuse having power with using power to control. That is not how it works. That is a projection of how humans take advantage of power to fulfill their own wishes onto God. Rather than using position to overriding all human choice and natural processes God gives us control to shape our lives and the lives of those around us. This is not to say that God is indifferent however. As the Jewish King David said, “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?” Psalm 56:8
We do see examples of God's intervention in human life and nature in the Bible and I will not pretend to know exactly why God may obviously intervene in some cases and not others, but I do know God sees the restrictions of humans and sets limits on what each person can experience. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 If you go through something it is because God knows it is not too much if you take the way of escape God hprovided through faith to cope with it. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
So although God is not in control of everything that happens we can have peace knowing that everything God allows to happen can work for our good even if it is disappointing. In fact, the Jewish teacher Paul states “I don’t think the sufferings we are going through now are even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us in the future.” Romans 8:18. God is watching over us and everything that happens and we can have confidence that God will take care of our lives and nothing will be overlooked. “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:14 God cares about us and if you submit to God’s control you don’t have to worry about what happens-good or bad. God’s love will guide you through this life and prepared you for an even better on in the next and then everything we didn’t understand in this life will make sense.
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