Finding Truth in a World of Questions
The questions of what God is doing and how circumstances or a particular series of events fit into his providential plan have been around for centuries. Among unbelievers, we hear the age-old question: How can a good and loving God allow this to happen? Even as believers we try to figure out God's plan - we try to understand how events and tragedies could be part of His purposes. Our attempt at figuring out the mind of God often makes our burdens heavier and situations more troublesome – even perplexing!
Rather than trying to figure out why God would allow this or that, we should ask ourselves: What do we know about God, His plan, and His methods of dealing with man? What do the Scriptures tell us? The short answer can be found and quoted from Romans 11, when Paul, overwhelmed by God's goodness, reveals God’s ultimate plan to redeem man (11:33-36):
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
Notice how Paul is not complaining in this passage; he is rejoicing about God’s plan in the Gospel, but also confessing that this plan is beyond his comprehension! The grand theme of all the Scriptures is God’s gracious and merciful, master plan to redeem man – to buy him back after his deliberate rebellion in the garden (Genesis 3). We should be encouraged by this truth; though we may be unsure about the reason behind a particular circumstance and question why God would allow something in our lives, we must be reminded that all things God allows are a part of his ultimate plan for man’s redemption.
Solomon had similar thoughts about God’s ways in the book of Ecclesiastes. In chapter 3, vs. 10-11, he noted that the struggles in our lives are “given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.” The word “exercised” has the idea of being trained or disciplined, much like the New Testament word “patience” found in James (1:4-8). In the New Testament, James instructs that the Believer should submit to the Lord’s ways to grow and learn life. Solomon also tells us that “He (God) hath made every thing beautiful in his time (Eccles. 3:11),” which indicates that His timing is fittingly perfect. The word “beautiful” has the idea of an artistic masterpiece in the process of being created – it may look distorted, unclear or even unsightly at certain points in the creative process, but once finished, we see a beautiful, complete masterpiece.
Solomon also confesses, like Paul, “..that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end (3:11),” but we can learn to trust Him and submit to His will and find joy in this life, no matter what the circumstances.
Could the Coronavirus pandemic be part of God judging this world for sin or to bring His church to repentance and revival? Maybe. In His holy righteousness, the sovereign God of heaven has every right to do so. The scriptures reveal times when he has judged the world for sin (global flood) and disciplined His own people because of their unfaithfulness through various means. Throughout the history of man, there have been those who have lived in defiance of God’s sovereignty; their daily lives are an affront to his grace and mercy. On this side of heaven, His church will always struggle to believe and trust His ways are best, and will need his guiding hand to rebuke and discipline them to bring repentance. However, our prayer should be that, whatever the Lord is doing and however it fits into His plan, sinners would be brought to faith and that believers will confess their sins and walk humbly before their God.
For believers, The Lord compares his relationship with His people to the workings of clay in a potter’s hands (Jeremiah 18). The potter’s work and methods may not make sense to the clay, but we should rest assured that each stroke and pull of the clay is made to create a useful, vessel of honor. In Ephesians, Paul refers to us as being the Lord’s workmanship (2:10). Whether handcrafted pottery or a beautiful original oil painting, God is working in the world and in us. We may not recognize what is being done with the clay or understand the brush strokes on the canvas, but this truth we know: The Potter, our Holy Redeemer is in complete control of His works - when He is finished it will be a beautiful masterpiece.