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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Is it all part of God's master plan?

I have heard others advise that Christians should not perceive circumstances as authentically troubling or as truly negative because, after all, it is all part of God's master plan. But I disagree.

True that it is counterproductive to narrow our focus on a negative perspective and there is a great deal of good to be gained by broadening our focus upon the potential for bringing a loving purposeful response to circumstances. But mere positive thinking that displaces negative thinking is shallow; so is defining circumstances as negative just because things did not go our way.

But I cannot believe that everything happens for a reason as if it is ALL serving God's master plan. That "It Is a Just World" philosophy disregards purposeless suffering. It justifies the choices and responsibility belonging to those whose decisions created suffering for others. Tragedy is dismissed as an illusion.

Each of us have a degree of freedom to do whatever we choose to do. And from time to time, we humans have been known to serve ourselves in such a manner that we simultaneously create useless, purposeless conditions for others either knowingly or unwittingly. Those circumstances are not part of a master plan.

Furthermore, that "everything is part of a master plan" philosophy can too easily set us at ease. Things must be really OK, on track and could not actually be any better. It is the best of all possible worlds. We lose a proper sense of shock and grow deaf to a call to change purposeless suffering.

In this entry I will not focus on the horrible evils that came into my own life. How can I perceive the God or person who brought suffering into my life for a purpose as loving! God, as I understand Him, brings purpose and redemption to chaos and evil. His love enables me to respond to the evil and "destructive negativity", but God does not bring or allow that evil into my life in order that He can work His master plan. Besides, if God is supposedly in control of everything then there would be no need to prepare people to deal with things that would not have come into our lives except that God sent that stuff too. We are not ants to a God heating up troubles with a magnifying glass in the hot sun!

Did the evil that damaged me so deeply in my childhood make me a better person? No, not at all. That evil made me into a dysfunctional father and husband who brought more useless suffering into my relationships. It was the love of God that made me a better person. But until that love got a true redemptive foothold in my life, the suffering only continued.

We should not narrow our focus on just the good or the bad. We should be honest with what is and be honest about what it can yet become in spite of what it might have been. Redemption cannot change the negative we refuse to be honest about nor can it bring about change we cannot believe in because of our bondage to a negative perspective. This is part of what grace is all about; it takes the useless and unnecessary conditions and transforms them into what they can become without regard to worthiness of the past. It is the value of the future that counts as the past is abandoned without issue.