CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
The Sovereignty of God Part 2
Luck, Miracles, and God's Purposes
By Christopher Schwinger
The Sovereignty of God, The Series
The Two Siloam Passages
Luck, Miracles, and God's Purposes
Single Page/Printer Friendly
The meaning of God's "sovereignty" is a major concern for anyone who has experienced a personal loss. I love the candid way a questioner worded his question which was assigned to me: "As I understand the Bible, we are born into a world of sin. It's the sin, not God, who causes diseases and evil. So if you get a disease is it just luck of the draw? And does that make good things also just the luck of the draw? When we pray from the heart, good things can happen, but sometimes good things happen without prayer, so is that just luck of the draw? Also, does the Bible say everything happens for a reason?"
The existence of "luck" seems to be in conflict with theology about God's "sovereignty." If God is sovereign, that can either mean He has the ability but chooses to withdraw somewhat by bestowing responsibility on people, or it can mean He is actively involved in everything. I believe it is both, but that the boundaries between what we do and what God does through us are too hard to determine, especially when we see that sometimes good intentions get used for evil and evil intentions get used for good. I don't think luck is nonexistent, though. Luck is the same as chance, and it's a law of nature: If you run often enough, you'll likely trip at some point just because you have a certain percent chance of getting hurt, depending on how clumsy you are. I personally disagree with the Old Testament practice of casting lots and think it was not as effective at telling God's will as they thought. While there's some truth to the "dispensations" idea that God worked in a different way in the Old Testament than now, I don't think that makes the casting of lots a reliable testimony in any era. It's based on a fatalistic philosophy which says the end result is predetermined, which accompanies their philosophy that every outcome must be interpreted, looking backward, as God's favor or wrath. But divine intervention indeed does override luck and sometimes our natural weakness. I believe God has protected me from dying when I had clumsiness or slow reflexes. He overrode nature in those cases. But if I had assumed He would always save me, and had been deliberately reckless, that would have been the end of me, I'm sure.
However, even ignorance doesn't protect us always from negative consequences. God doesn't give people a safety net just because of their ignorance and limitations. That's probably the hardest part to accept about His "sovereignty." There are negative consequences which people experience because of the choices of others and because of the environments they're born into. Also, their own health choices can do this. There are cover-ups by people in the medical, pharmaceutical, and soft drink industries which have led to false beliefs in the populace, and people have consumed products which were very toxic. The cause was that they listened to bad advice from the "experts." They can pray, and God sometimes does miraculously heal them. When I was at MidAmerica Nazarene University, the interim president, Jim Diehl, told of having the church elders pray for the cancer somewhere in his throat area to be healed. At some point in the following days, he suddenly felt something change there, and the doctor later could not explain what happened when he discovered it was gone. But Dr. Diehl had a much younger relative who did not recover, I think also from cancer. He asked God why He saved his life and not his younger relative's, and of course did not get an answer.
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