“God is in control,” is a common sentiment expressed in Christian circles. Since God is all-knowing and all-powerful, then it seems to make sense that He is also be controlling everything that happens in our world today.
However, that concept of an “in control” God quickly runs into a huge problem. There are whole lot of horrible, evil things that happen in the world. At the same time, the Bible clearly tells us that love is the core characteristic of God.
How can a loving God force evil onto the world?
Theologians have come up with various approaches that resolve that contradiction. One of those approaches says basically that God doesn’t actually cause the bad stuff. Instead, He allows certain others to make the evil happen.
In this way, these folks say, God still retains control, while not actually being directly responsible for the evil, unloving things that are far too common in the world.
Is this really true? Does God allow evil things like the COVID-19 pandemic to happen in our world?
Defining Our Words
The short answer to that question is that it depends on which definition of the word “allow” you mean. According to the Miriam-Webster Dictionary, there are two ways to define the word allow as we’re using it here: a). Permit; b) to fail to restrain or prevent.
Most people who talk about allowing bad things mean that God permits those bad things, that He expressly or formally consents to the evil, and authorizes it. Since they feel God is in control, then He must authorize everything that happens, good or bad, even if He’s not the one actually making it happen.
However, we can go all the way back to the beginning in Genesis and see that this is not how God does things.
Back to Genesis
The Genesis account tells us that God created everything in the universe and then God created human beings last.
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”— Genesis 2:15-17 (NKJV)
There we see that God did not authorize Adam to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In fact, God specifically commanded Adam not to eat the fruit of that tree.
At the same time it is true that God did not restrain Adam and Eve. Nor did He prevent them from eating the fruit He ordered them not to eat. So in that sense we can say that God “allowed” sin to enter into the world.
But God’s failure to restrain Adam and Eve shows us that God’s character is not about exerting control over others. And that makes sense. As mentioned above, The Bible clearly tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8, 4:16)
Here are the traits that the Bible tells us define what love truly looks like.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.— 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NKJV)
Nothing in that explanation of love comes even close to including control or manipulation of others. Since love is not controlling, and since love is one of the defining characteristics of God, then God also cannot be controlling us today, plain and simple.
And, because God is not really “in control” of everything that happens to us today, we can then reasonably conclude that God didn’t authorize this pandemic to cover the globe either, just like He did not authorize Adam and Eve to eat that fruit.
God’s Heart Towards You
There’s a verse in the Bible that reveals the heart of every member of the Godhead towards you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.— 2 Corinthians 13:14 (ESV)
Jesus has a heart of grace towards you. He desires to bless you in ways you don’t even deserve. You have nothing short of unmerited favor in His eyes. Favor can accomplish more in a moment than natural effort can accomplish in a lifetime.
The Father has a heart of love towards you. We already talked about what love looks like. There is nothing you can do that will cause God to love you any less than He already does. Nor is there anything you could possibly do to cause Him to love you any more than He already does.
The Holy Spirit desires and intimate, ongoing fellowship with you, so that you get to know Him. He desires to be with you always and guide you into all truth. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will communicate what He hears from the Father and reveal things about the future to us, and much more too!
So you see, God’s heart is to bless you, and all of mankind, not to allow some global plague to bring death to the world.
Much More to Say
To be fair, there are several passages in the Bible that seem to indicate God is in control of things in our world. Romans chapter 9 is one of those passages, along with the book of Job. And there are a few others too.
However, when we dig down into those scriptures to examine them more closely I believe we can see they don’t really show God in control of everything that happens.
I wrote a little book about it because the topic seems to come up so often. It’s a short read, only about 50 pages, called Sovereignty of God: Is God Really in Control? In it I address these challenging passages in the Bible and show that God really is not in control.
That’s a wonderful truth because, as I explain in the book, it opens up the potential for a much more intimate personal relationship with God that will totally transform each of our lives.
My encouragement to you is to study out the scriptures for yourself. Don’t take my word for it. See what the Bible actually says.
If you do, I believe you will find that God is far more wonderful and desires to bless you far more than you ever thought possible. I know that’s exactly what happened in my life.
Finally, let me offer you a gift. I send out an email devotional every morning. It’s short, so you can read it in about a minute. That minute will encourage you and help you get your day started on a positive note. It’s totally free, with no strings attached. If you decide it’s not for you, unsubscribe anytime. Click through to our ministry website to subscribe to Daily Reflections.
Chris Cree was a merchant marine officer and flew off of aircraft carriers in jets with the US Navy. After leaving the Navy he spent 12 years working on the docks in various marine cargo operations positions. In 2007 Chris turned his blogging hobby into a new career developing websites, both in his own business as a freelancer and as an employee of a rapidly growing firm. This job change provided the flexibility to eventually leave the coast where the ships were, and move to the mountains and attend Bible college.
Chris and his wife Lisa founded NewCREEations Ministries in 2013 as a vehicle to answer God’s call on their lives to guide believers into their full inheritance in the Kingdom of God. They live in Scotland as missionaries, where they lead a local campus of an international Bible college. You can learn more and contact them with questions or other inquiries via their NewCREEations.org website.