God Is in Control?

In the wake of the Trump triumph/impending disaster, a number of Christians have resorted to what is certainly a wonderful promise in the Scripture. It’s found in the book of Romans:

Romans 8-28

I love that promise as much as anyone, but I’ve always been dismayed by comments about it that seem to overlook the condition mentioned therein: this is a promise “to those who love the Lord.”

What I hear all too often is that this is a promise that no matter what happens, everything will work out okay. After all (repeat the refrain after me), “God is in control.”

That’s a cliché of the highest magnitude.

What’s the matter with Snyder? Doesn’t he believe God is in control of the universe?

If you simply mean that everyone will ultimately answer to Him for their lives and the decisions they make, I agree. If you mean that He is the One who sovereignly determines when this sorry thing called humanity will come to an end, I agree again.

Yes, He is in control.

But if you mean that somehow even the worst decisions of mankind are all part of God’s plan, you lose me there. If you think that sin is ever part of what He wants, count me out of the congregation of the simple-minded.

I take comfort in Romans 8:28 in the sense that even in the worst of times, if I hold tightly to Him and His Word, and if I remain steadfast in my love for Him, He has promised to take the worst of times and turn it around somehow and bring unforeseen blessing out of it.

That’s not the same as a false hope that nothing will ever go wrong because “God is in control.”

Consider the faith chapter in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, where the writer extols how God did miraculous things for his people in the past, saving them out of terrible circumstances. We love to quote that part of the chapter. Then comes the hammer-blow:

Others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

We would like to ignore such passages.

Again, I’m not saying that God’s Word is untrue; I’m saying we need to interpret it correctly. We’ve never been promised that all things on this earth will turn out right. Some of us will live lives of utmost misery, being mocked and scourged and, yes, even put to death unjustly.

But what we can say, with certainty, is that in all the turmoils we face, God stands with us, doing all that can be done to work things out for our good—provided we continue to love and obey Him.