Is God Responsible For Everything That Happens?
Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Ephesians 1:11
“There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will,” wrote William Shakespeare some 450 plus years ago. The Bard of Avon was not new in his contention that God has a will in the affairs of men and women—which puts to rest the idea that things happen by chance or by fate.
Naturally, if there is no God, or if the God of creation turned His back on His work and went back and shut Himself up in Heaven, then fate or chance might have a philosophical basis, but the writers of the New Testament clearly denied the premise that some things “just happen” for the Christian.
If you contend that there is no such thing as chance or fate, does that make God responsible for everything that happens? Does it make Him vulnerable for your flat tire (especially when your tire is as bald as an eagle’s head) or responsible for the typhoon that sweeps across the South China sea? The Bible does tell us that some things are hard in life as the result of original sin (that is, when Adam and Eve chose their way rather than God’s way) and man has to earn his living by the sweat of his brow. It also means that nature itself is hostile to us, producing typhoons, tornadoes, snow storms and all sorts of related difficulties.
In a very real sense, some of my problems in life are the result of a hereditary flaw that goes back to Adam –just like I can blame my parents for a balding pate and bifocals. I inherited the tendency or disposition towards these, just as some of life is tough because of the curse from the fall.
At the same time, I recognize some of my problems are the result of my own failure, for which I can blame neither Adam nor my own father. For instance, you run those tires into the cord and sooner or later (probably sooner) you are going to have a flat tire or a blow-out and probably at the very worst time, say, when you are late to an important appointment or on your way to your daughter’s wedding.
For troubles like that, along with marital difficulties, personal failures and a host of other things, we have to accept responsibility. If there is such a thing as fate, it is the product of our own failures. However—and it is a big however—the Bible contends that God is still in control. There is a limit, a boundary which He has drawn beyond which nothing can happen apart from His will. The irony of the situation is that God often uses evil men as well as difficult circumstances for which He is not responsible to do His will in our lives.
Remember Joseph’s brothers who sold him into slavery? “You meant it for evil,” says Joseph to them years later, “but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Paul alleged the same thing when he wrote from a prison cell, “The things which have happened to me have resulted in the furtherance or the progress of the Gospel” (Philippians 1:12).
For the child of God there is no such thing as fate, for we belong to our heavenly Father and He has a special will for us. God’s children will walk through the fire and face the flood as well as the heat of battle and the edge of the surgeon’s scalpel, but in them all he will not be burned or overcome (Isaiah 43:1- 2). What a liberating truth!
Resource reading: Ephesians 1:1-23