Monday, July 12, 2010

Finding Comfort in the Will of God

I was involved in a discussion the other day regarding the will of God and what comforts us in times of great trial, specifically the loss of a loved one. The other side of the discussion consisted of a vague notion that God wouldn't allow bad things to happen. I can't state an incoherent argument coherently except to say that the reason it is incoherent is because it is essentially visceral and not scripturally based.

I pointed out that God is sovereign, all of us deserve to die and that unless Christ returns in a premillennial fashion we will all die, physically that is. So the truth is that there is nothing wrong with the observation that God causes us all to die one way or the other. He is right to do so and it is his will.

In response, I was told that people who were suffering loss shouldn't be told that the death of their loved one was the will of God. Additionally, it was pointed out, such a discourse to someone who was suffering loss could be driven away from God if they thought that God caused their loved one to be taken from them.

I'm sure my reply was not fully understood at the time, but I responded with our desire for the true God as our source of comfort. To elaborate:

First, we are all sinners who deserve death. Therefore, no means of the death of sinners is intrinsically evil. For example, a tornado that kills sinful people is not a bad thing. Or a murderer killing sinful people is not a bad thing. It is evil to murder, but that a sinner was murdered is not evil. The distinction is important to understand. God, who has no sin, is not a murderer for killing sinful people in cold blood. That we are horrified by the death of sinners should not inform our thinking on the nature of death as a result of sin. Otherwise, we fail to understand the nature of sin and our dire need for a savior.

Second, our desire is to be for God. It's not that we can try to desire God and succeed, for the very act of trying is founded on the desire we already have. Therefore, the desire is always first. But if we desire God then we would desire his will, whatever it is.

Now it is true that there are many who desire God according some misconception they have about God, but this is a desire for a false God because it is based on the notion of a god who does not exist. That is, that if our concept of God is not according to his revelation of himself to us then we have construed a false god in which to place our faith.

It may be that there are aspects of God that have not been revealed to us or that we have not come to a full understanding of God as we continue to learn about him. However, inasmuch as the gospel of Christ is central to his revelation to us, as long as we get the core of the gospel right, then we understand the essentials about who God is and the rest we ponder and refine throughout our lives as we grow in faith.

But with regard to the gospel, if we do not apprehend the depth of our sinfulness and God's sovereignty as creator, then we cannot understand the gospel of Christ. (There are other things to know in order to understand the gospel, but these two are key to this discussion.) If we think in any way that we are intrinsically worth saving, then we have to think that God has relinquished some aspects of his sovereignty in creation to us or we will think God blameworthy of the deaths of good people everywhere.

However, if we know the depths of our sinfulness, then we know that any desire we have for God comes from God himself and we rejoice in his sovereignty. For such who know this, it is comforting to know that the death of a loved one is the will of God. We may weep sorrowfully if we knew they they rejected God and we will see them no longer. On the other hand, if we saw the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, namely faith in God and the atoning work of Christ, then we can weep for joy in knowing that they have gone on before us and we are parted only for a short time.

For one who doesn't know the gospel as such there is no comfort except a false hope in a lie. For those who know it truly such as have fully placed their trust in Christ the only comfort is in the will of God; and as we display that comfort, God is most glorified.

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