Thursday, December 12, 2013

UGW Q2: Cause vs. Allow

            2.  Well, what about verses like Proverbs 16:4: “The Lord works out everything for his own end . . . ”  Doesn’t this mean that He makes everything happen for His own reasons? 
            I don’t think that’s what it means.  It doesn’t say He makes everything happen for His own reasons, it says He works them out for His own ends.  (I’ll break this down further a little later.)  He has an end goal, and He knows how to take whatever we do and work it together to reach that end.  But this doesn’t necessarily mean that He causes us to do what we do for His own reasons or that He causes the tragedies that we face for a reason.
            Now, keep in mind as you read this series that I am not challenging the whole “Everything happens for a reason” idea for those who face trials in the quiet, optimistic assurance that there is some reason for their trial or tragedy.  I believe that they already have a secure faith in the fact that God will use that tragedy or heartache for good.  And they are not overly concerned about the “did He cause it or allow it to happen” debate.  They just know that good will come out of it. 
            I am trying to clarify the “cause vs. allow” debate for those who doubt God or are bitter or angry at Him for the tragedy and pain in their lives.  Those who don’t know how a good God could “cause” such bad stuff, and who aren’t sure if they can trust a God like that.  This is why I want to differentiate between “cause or allow” in the coming questions, to show you that God can be trusted indeed. 
            And I am also talking to those who use “Everything happens for a reason” to excuse themselves of any responsibility when a choice of theirs causes a certain consequence.  If we cause something bad to happen by our choices, we cannot shrug it off as “God’s Will” or say that He caused us to do it for a reason.  We are responsible for our behavior and for the consequences.   
            But we can trust that whatever bad things come into our lives, by our own doing or not, He will take all that “junk” and work it into something good, something that serves His purposes.  And He can tell how to best use this “junk” because He sees all of history before it happens.  I don’t necessarily think He alters His plans to incorporate our “bad stuff,” so much as He already knew how He’d use it, because He could look ahead and see it coming before history even started.
            So to sum up what I'm trying to say here:  I think it's generally more accurate to say that God allows things to happen, not that He causes everything to happen, such as tragedies, consequences of our actions, trials, obstacles, difficulties, etc.  And it makes a difference in our trust and faith and obedience if we believe it's "cause" instead of "allow," which is why it's worth the time of sorting this out in our minds.

Posts in this "Understanding God's Will" series: