Life is funny, isn’t it?
We live our lives, day to day, trying to understand, trying to make sense of our experiences, our choices, the choices of others, the seemingly random and at times, chaotic nature of this world that we live in. Rarely is insight to be had in the moment.
Rather, we live our lives and it is only in looking back, the remembering, that we discover that those random and weird and maybe good but maybe bad experiences of life actually were for something. They shaped us or formed us or prepared us for a future which, at the time, could not be conceived.
Funny how that works, isn’t it? That thing called living by faith.
Being an extremely zealous youth, I remember carrying the mantra, “Everything happens for a reason,” with me like it was my driver’s license, which I was taught, “Never leave home without it.” I believed that everything did happen for a reason. I had to believe that. Because my belief that everything happens for a reason said something about my God. It said that my God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and atemporal. My God had to be that because if not, my God was not god. And so, yada yada yada, everything happens for a reason.
But does it? Does everything happen for a reason or sometimes, does random stuff just happen? No reason, no rhyme. Just random.
Or maybe we should start at the other end…Does my God have to be all-powerful, all-knowing, and atemporal? I can imagine your grip on that heresy flag tightening…I get it. To ask that question treads on ground that we shalt not tread upon. But let’s just for a moment, create a safe place to ask a real question.
Does my God have to meticulously be over and in and above every single detail of the happenings of God’s creation? Does my God have to be hyper-controlling of my choices, your choices, and the twig that just fell from the tree in my neighbor’s backyard? Does my God have to be that in order to be sovereign?
Might God’s sovereignty be something else?
Baptist theologian E. Frank Tupper likes to say that the sovereignty of God is not a sovereignty of control. “The sovereignty of God is the sovereignty of God’s love.”
And what does love look like…real love?
I love my kiddos with a love that is like no other. More than anything else, I want my kids to thrive, to be empowered, to have the freedom to live their lives. In order for them to have that kind of freedom, my love for them requires that I step back to give them space to exist and to be their own people. My love for them looks like giving them freedom.
I don’t imagine God’s love for us being very different.
God’s sovereign love enables us, God’s creation, to have real freedom. To make real choices. To experience the real consequences of those choices. To actually be able to choose to love God in return…or not.
And if that’s the case, when the world goes dark, when terror takes hold, when really really really bad things happen, our response doesn’t have to be as trite and belittling as, “Everything happens for a reason.” Instead, we can sit with those in the dark, mourn with those that are grieving, hurt with those that are hurting, and we can say, “I’m with you and so is God.”