Does God being in control help out? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Yesterday, I saw a friend on Facebook share the image below:
My friend was not happy with it. Now I’ll grant he could know the person behind the tweet better than I do. Maybe they do have a theology that denies that God is in control. Of course, we could also debate what it means for God to be in control. A Calvinist and an Arminian could both say that, but they would have different ideas on what control is.
Now my own approach to this at first was that I understood it. If someone is in the midst of a crisis, it is true that God is in control, but saying that God is in control might not be helpful. It’s true, but we are to speak the truth in love. If someone has a major crisis going on, God is in control, but that doesn’t always help the emotional pain they’re going in.
Of course, I think it is far better to have God in control than to have the alternative. However, it doesn’t always deal with the pain that someone is going through. It’s theology that is true and can be helpful in its own way, but it has to be delivered at the right time.
I have told men before that if you are ever the pastor of a church and a mother comes to you and has lost her teenage son in a car accident and is wondering why God let this happen, you had better not be a philosopher or an apologist at that moment. She may be asking that, but that is not what her heart is really wanting. She’s really wanting love and comfort at that time. There will be a time later to answer that question, but that time is not then.
Sometimes, it could even make it worse to hear that. The person could already have some anger at God, and I really believe all Christians have at times, and then to hear He is in control could lead them to see Him as responsible for whatever suffering they have. Some could think God directly caused it and will get angry or more depressed thinking they are being punished for something and they don’t know what.
Now is there a time to say this? Yes, but as in any case involving giving counsel and support, it needs to be earned. The friend who shared this has gone through suffering also and when we talked about divorce, he could relate to me and give comfort and if he ended a conversation with me on a good note and said “Remember, God is in control” at the end, I would have been responsive in a good way.
Right now, I can tell you I feel the pain of my divorce every day still. At this point, I know still that He is in control and that helps, but when I was at the start of it all, that’s not something that would have helped me to hear. What really was helpful was to have a friend instead. I don’t say this to down good theology. Good theology has been a blessing to me for decades now. However, in the midst of chaos, good theology has a harder time hitting home. That’s when you need a friend to be, as Gary Habermas tells me, “Your surrogate frontal lobe.”
Now as I said, some who know the person who tweeted the message better than I do might know things about them that would change my mind on their saying it, but I am speaking of the overall message. Speak the truth in love. Listen to the person first and where they are before giving them your theology.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)