I’m thinking today of the young man who was verbally pummeled by his father his entire childhood and has emerged a porridge of an adult – or a rock-hard missile of abuse himself.
Or the young woman who experienced far more horrific abuse on the part of her father and now sees a dirty, irredeemable person in the mirror.
Or the Israelite infants who never even grew old enough for trials but were sacrificed alive in the superheated arms of bronze idols.
Or the elderly man I know who has received not only a terminal diagnosis, but a stack of medical bills that could drown his children in debt – followed by a flippant denial-of-benefits letter from an insurer who sees him as a claim number.
Would you look these people in the eye and say that their suffering is God’s will for them? That the soul-level damage, the sheer violation of God’s intention for this world, was initiated directly by God for his glory?
Just your reaction to that question will reveal a…dilemma we face in learning God’s sovereignty. We have agendas. I do, and you do. It makes the debate prickly; we’ve staked out ground and feel compelled to defend it.
If life is a journey east on Interstate 90, I’ve only traveled as far as the state I actually live in – Montana. I’m a mere journeyman in Biblically understanding God’s sovereignty. This article isn’t a finished building but the raw materials; it’s less about finding an answer and more about honestly acknowledging our agendas.
For there are two different kinds of people approaching this problem. It affects how we debate the issue – and, crucially, how we speak of it to the sufferer.