Life is a series of events; some pleasant and good, some difficult and bad. Why do things happen the way they do? Why do lives fall apart, why do natural disasters occur, why do bad things happen to “good people”? Why are some people extraordinarily blessed with health, material goods, and good fortune when others always seem to have struggles through life?
Job had known both dynamics. His life had been extraordinarily blessed and now he was enduring unimaginable pain and suffering. Why? The answer to this question is to be found in the underlying theme of the book of Job; God’s sovereignty in every circumstance of life. God was not only sovereignly in control of all the blessings of Job’s life but in the hardships as well.
But simply saying God is sovereign is not enough. There needs to be a reason in his sovereignty…there needs to be a purpose for it. In Job 37 a man named Elihu is speaking. He is affirming that even the natural forces in the world are controlled by the sovereign hand of God whether that be wind, lightning, or rain. In verses 12-13 he gives insight as to why: “They (clouds and lightning of v.11) turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the inhabitable world. Whether for correction or for his land, or for love, he causes it to happen”. Note that in v. 12 we have the declaration of his sovereignty of such things. In v. 13 we have the reason. He gives three possible reasons:
- For correction. God uses his sovereign machination to correct people and situations. This is akin to discipline; righting that which is wrong in a situation, in an organization, or in an individual life
- For his land. The Bible tells us the “earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”. God sends rain (“he loads the clouds with thick moisture” v. 11), the snow (v. 6), and controls the animal world (v. 8). All of this language is meant to communicate that God manages the earth (his land) and that things don’t just happen by chance.
- For love. God’s sovereign purpose is not simply for correction or management of the earth. His sovereignty is also a demonstration and administration of his love.
So, why do things happen? Here is why. Sometimes God is correcting. Sometimes he is managing the earth. Sometimes he is exhibiting his love by sovereignly doing what we may not at the moment understand or see as being “loving”. Yet, he is acting in love to us. Sometimes he is doing all three in the same circumstance.
The point is this; life is not a series of accidents but appointments made by the sovereign purposes of God. This week as “things happen”, ask yourself, “What is God doing here? Is he correcting me somehow? Is he simply managing the earth? Is he showing me his love?” Whatever happens in your life this week God would have us to know that he is not asleep at the switch. He is acting for our good (Rom. 8:28). That “good” is not necessarily “fun”. The “good” that God is working thorough in every circumstance is our conformity to the image of Christ.
It is hard to consider cancer “good”. It is counter intuitive to consider the death of a loved one “good”. I cannot imagine what my life would be like without my Michal. I hope to never have to find out. But even in the circumstance of her death, God would be working for good! This is hard for us to comprehend but it is nonetheless true. We are everyone of in the hands of Providence. That being true, we can be in no safer place. There are no accidents… only appointments.