We turn our faces and hide like Adam and Eve – naked before God – to a number of aspects of God’s wrath and holiness. We have covered some of these: his justice, how he is against sin, how his wrath was poured on himself in love, and how he is real about these things and faces them head-on. One thing, though, that we hide from the most is that God himself is ALL powerful and almighty.
Nothing can happen without his allowance or causation
Think about this: God can do all things possible and impossible; he can stop anything at any time. Logically, nothing can happen unless he allows it through his will. If he is able and doesn’t – it is still a choice. When you’re omnipotent, you can impact anything – so if you don’t – you have chosen not to. We shy from this, but this is a relieving and powerful fact to take in with the proper perspective.
And we know this because, in scripture, it says, when speaking of Jesus:
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”
And generally speaking of God’s will, in particular, his own decisive will:
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” Ephesians 1:11, ESV
Power with insight
God has the will ‘he allows,’ but he also has a will, just as we do – as to what he ‘approves.’ We might find it wise to allow our child to go through with something, even though we don’t like it, but we allow it for a greater purpose. And an earthly detective might let a villainous criminal go in hopes of capturing them later and gathering more evidence against them.
How much greater is God’s scope of knowledge and understanding of the chains of consequences in all directions, like a cone of light directly bouncing across the universe. God knows every heart. Imagine the innumerable impacts of answering a single prayer.
You couldn’t answer a single one without destroying the fabric of everything, and here is a God who does this for many – in a single day – and purposed the prayer in the first place, lodging it in the heart of the prayer if it is of and from Him. He knows the conversations that go on when you aren’t there and knows what each person cares about and how to break or change someone. He knows what someone can endure with his help. He also knows what and how he can heal them.
And to think, this king has so much power, insight, awareness, foresight, control, and influence that he can allow even those who would shape all things for themselves and bring evil into all they do to serve his ultimate purposes, despite disagreeing with them – though they have no intention for their purposes to land where he makes them land, and though he disapproves of their every thought and deed.
Everything in his hands… including the heart
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20, NIV
“The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.”
Proverbs 16:4; 9, ESV
“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He pleases.”
Proverbs 21:1, NASB
Think about the influence he has over the heart if a king’s very thoughts and deeds are allowed or caused by God. His purposes are higher than our purposes and ways above our ways.
As it is written, still yet again,
““For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV
See? God declares it himself; I don’t even need to interpret the text; he does it himself for us so that there are no qualms, ‘if’s,’ ‘and’s,’ or ‘but’s.’
Today’s world and time are amok with everything that would tell us otherwise. Our schools teach us that we are only apes, come by chance and that everything – like gas bouncing around and filling a room only happens by random mistaken chance. COVID fears, the crisis between the Ukraine and Russia, the lesser-known clashing between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and the posturing between China, Taiwan, and Japan.
Perhaps, it would have us feeling like, ‘what’s the point of all of this?’ And, God yet has purposes that would be better if he allowed them than if he wouldn’t because we know this:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, ESV).
Not just poetry… but hard to swallow real truths
This isn’t just poetry but knowing that we are in every way, whether in suffering or joy, being guided into what brings ultimate good.
As Elder D.J. Ward puts it, in his sermon According To His Purpose,
“some things this morning, I am able to deal with… but I couldn’t have dealt with when I was 18 … in spite of what’s taken place in my life, right now, right today, I know in the end it’s going to work for my good … you who are torn up this morning about what you don’t know, can rest in what you do know.”
I have heard other African American preachers with a “big God” theology reflect the same, Jupiter Hammon, a poet, preacher, a commercial clerk in Long Island, and originally born into slavery… he once said of the plight of African Americans at the time (as recorded by Anthony B. Pinn in his book Moral Evil and Redemptive Suffering: A History of Theodicy in African-American Religious Thought):
“I am pained to the heart. It is at times almost too much for human nature to bear, and I am obliged to turn my thoughts from the subject or endeavor to still my mind, by considering that it is permitted thus to be, by that God who governs all things, who setteth up one and pulleth down another.” (Pinn, 28)
Continuing on and encouraging his congregation to learn to read that they may drink deeply of the word of God…
“Therein we may learn what God is. That he made all things by the power of his word, and that he made all things for his own glory, and not for our glory. That he is over all, and above all his creatures, and more above them than we can think or conceive — that they can do nothing without him — that he upholds them all and will overrule all things for his own glory.” (Pinn, 34)
That’s faith right there! He sees God, in spite of circumstances.
My friend, you have need for suffering
I often say, ‘sometimes what somebody needs is just a big honking hamburger of suffering.’ I say this because God often awakes us and guides in the smallest things for us or our circumstances to be there for others and in turn for us. Not many things mature us and help us see the world more clearly than chewing on suffering and turning to God and truth and seeing his love… and the suffering he’s taken for you in that love. He has guided you to this point. God is not getting his jollies from senseless agony, yet, we sometimes need it.
Once, a man contracted rabies by sharing a beer with a horse. It would have been better for him to have been bitten severely; they could have suspected that he had rabies and would have gotten help. But, of course, no one wants to be bitten severely, and you wouldn’t usually be thanking God for a flesh-shredding bite from a horse.
But, if it awakens a chance to prevent death, this is then mercy. Do you see? This is a massive cause for humility. We need to be eager to imagine how He is helping us rather than how he might be causing us harm. Question your doubts, and tell yourself you are wrong, just as you would if someone spoke an ill word of your spouse – when you know better about who they are.
No other conclusion
Brother or sister in Christ, friend, reader, God being in control is far better than a world out of control and purposeless. This is one of the primary thoughts that, though to many a bitter thought, was used to lead me to Christ. In everything and every final conclusion, I saw that the random world was unworthy living in. It was a purposeless vat of bacon grease boiling and staring up at me like two pupils of death, an ever-grin stamped but fake and empty.
In 100 years, everyone you know and love or don’t care about even, and all will be forgotten. Even in the naturalist worldview, you will have forgotten everything. It is as though you already don’t exist, and all is an illusion. So either we accept that there is great purpose, or we accept that all is random and unsafe, or that all is purposeless. There is no other logical conclusion.
Consider the complexity and seeming impossibility of this great love
Let me leave you with verses to ponder and consider this deep ocean of incalculable spider-webs and spaghetti bowl of connections and moments guided, allowed, disapproved, or approved of by him but for his good pleasure and ultimate glory; and ultimately, believer, for your joy.
Now consider, if God wants it, will he not have it?
Even amidst man being responsible for his own choices…
11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?
“In faithfulness you have afflicted me.”
39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he,
and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
1 Samuel 2:6-7
6 The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
13 Consider the work of God:
who can make straight what he has made crooked?
14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.
7 I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things.
6 Is a trumpet blown in a city,
and the people are not afraid?
Does disaster come to a city,
unless the Lord has done it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?
9 The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
4 The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
10 In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind.
3 Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”
13 “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him?
He does whatever he pleases.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.
23 I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”[a] In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
17 He has cast the lot for them;
his hand has portioned it out to them with the line;
they shall possess it forever;
from generation to generation they shall dwell in it.
Casey is passionate about helping other Christian men in their walk with Jesus Christ. His writings on faith draws from a love of malacology, kinesiology, and quantum physics.