Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Who to blame...

Ever wonder at how people thank God when they get the touchdown or win the lottery but chalk any bad luck like a car wreck or a stab in the heart by a sting-ray up to, well... bad luck? What if it is all a kind of "luck.” What if God put this world in motion, while still animating and being personal, (unlike pure deism) and lets things happen the way they are to happen? What if you get the part in the musical because you were talented and not because God wanted it to happen? Why is some long shot a "God thing" and the other times things are a shoe-in. If we blame God for the good things, then why not blame him for the bad things?

I am beginning to wonder if blaming God for everything can lead to more fear and paralysis. When you pray for something and feeeeeel like God is going to make it happen and it doesn't, then doesn't that scare you a bit? I am not talking about the whole "God closes one door and opens another" bit. I grew up in church and have heard that story and know how it works. I am talking about those times where you feel like you have been affirmed, and you can compare that feeling of affirmation with other times... and then it doesn't happen. What about those times? What if it just means what it means? It didn't happen, because it didn't happen. Or it didn't happen because things you did or said caused it to happen that way. It is harder to blame yourself than it is God like saying "well it just wasn't in His will" instead of "well, I really didn't do my best or I shouldn't have had such a big mouth."

I've even heard Christians say "it isn't the most talented who get it but the talented AND persistent." Where is God in that sentence?

There seems to be a sort of improvisation to life. An order but a "dynamic" order as Brant put it in a recent conversation. An order that cannot be controlled because that's how God set it up. Now, he can intervene through miracles, but most of the time it works as it works. (All the while, totally held together by him. A weird thing to ponder but there is really no way around that one.)

Thinking out loud here and I don't feel this way very often so I would be interested in your thoughts.


Vitamin Z said...

"If we blame God for the good things, then why not blame him for the bad things?"

I'm not sure if blame is the word I would want to use, but rather maybe we choose to submit to what comes to pass. Sometimes we can see direct intervention from God, but other times it seems that we are personally and directly responsible as agents. I'm sure you are aware that you are touching on a huge one there theologically, thus we probably aren't going to wrap this up here in the comments section.

One of the key Bible texts that I seem to gravitate towards in this kind of conversation is Matt 10:28-30 - 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. [6] 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? [7] And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

This, to me, seems to imply a very intimate interaction on the part of God with his creation.

Anonymous said...

i liked your observation about the statement about talent and persistence - where is God in that? i almost think our journey is all about trust - it things were predictable - trust wouldn't be needed. It's about God and not about us.

Seth Ward said...

It is an intersting concept and theological mystery for sure. I always find it interesting when I read the Old testament and read things like "and God was sorry that he ever made man." Insinuates that God didn't see that coming. Or when God is finished creating something like man and sees in needs something else. "And God said, it is not good for man to be alone."

A good question is: Can God create a system in which he BOTH knows and either doesn't know or chooses to not know and still be omnipotent?

Darin, I agree all the way there.

FancyPants said...

OK, sure, it's about God and not about us. That sounds really great, but that still leaves the fact that there is an "us," and we have to deal with that.

Meaning, I have an existence that is unique to myself. I make my own decisions and have my own passions, abilities, talents. No one is identical to another, because God created it that way.

So...I want a job. I want that job because, oh, many reasons. I like it. I'm good at it. I need to make money. I feel good when I'm doing it. Now, by working that job will I honor God? Sure. But to get it I have to find it, apply for it, call for it, probably call for it again, interview for it, accept it, and do the job well.

Would not have happened without my initiative.

So say I get the job. Is it God or me? Well, really, I made the choice to go after it. Say I don't get the job. Well, I wasn't the boss's pick.

It just is what it is. And in some mysterious way God works it all out for the good.

Chaotic Hammer said...

I agree with what Fancy is saying. That is, yes this is certainly a very deep theological question that we could go around and around on, but it's also an extremely practical question in everyone's day-to-day life.

Using her example, when someone has been unemployed for a long while, and had earnestly sought employment and even prayed for it (and had others praying), when that person finally gets a job, to what extent can you say "God gave me this job!" and to what extent do you have to wonder "If I'd just sat on my ass and not sent out any resumes, would God have still given me this same job?".

So while God is sovereign over all and knows every sparrow that falls and every hair on our head, we still have choices in a microcosmic way, even though the big picture is heading in a certain, inevitable direction.

I think it's sort of like Twelve Monkeys, where if somebody knew the future and went back in time to try and change it, that person would actually turn out to be some part of the cause of the very event they were sent to change. (Sorry, huge logical leap there, try not to break your legs making it.)

bacahead said...

Chaotic Hammer,

what do you mean by "the big picture is heading in an inevitable way?"

Susanne said...

I've had a hard time with this one myself lately. I've heard so many stories lately of good Christian people who suffer so much. One family has a daughter with a terminal illness, and they just found out that the mother has a brain tumor. I thought, "Is that something God planned to happen?" I know that "the rain falls on the just and the unjust," but sometimes it seems like too much rain concentrated on one person/family. The book of Job was always so sad to me for that reason. But Job had a happy ending because he kept his faith in God even though he had so many trials.

The truth is that Satan does have power in this world. God has ultimate power over Satan, but He does allow him to move and work in our world (and many times He stops him as well). We also have free will, and that free will brings consequences. I think the best thing to keep in mind is what Amber said, which is that God will work everything out for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes. Our responsibility is to have faith in God no matter what happens, and God will work out the rest.

On the subject of Job, here's an interesting blog to read: