How does God relate to us? Did He merely create the universes and retire to the heavens to dispationately observe all we do, or does He actively intervene, getting intimately involved in our lives for our greater good–even though this may, at times, create difficulty for us?
“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
God is not an objective observer in our lives. He loves us and fervently desires for us to come to Him. Because of this, we can know with certainly that when seemingly bad things happen in our lives, it is not a random act of chance. So, why do bad things happen? There are several answers to this question.
Because God loves us, he does not abandon us to our sinful inclinations, even if these seem slight to us. He knows every intent of our hearts and every thought we think even before we think it, and when He sees we need it, our heavenly Father may cause bad things to happen in our lives to direct our hearts toward greater righteousness. I have personally experienced this within the last week in my own life.
I have had one new car in my entire life–a 2009 Honda Civic in exactly the color I wanted! I was only able to purchase it because of the generously of my mother, yet it almost indiscernibly did something to me. As ludicrous as it seems–and perhaps because it took so long for me to be able to get it–I think I almost came to believe that I was somehow better than people who weren’t driving a new Honda Civic!
Almost from the beginning, God began to work on my heart. I got a little scratch on the door, and my husband–eager to help–rubbed off the paint with an abrasive that promised to polish it out. Then my windshield began getting chips and cracks, and one winter I ran over a snowbank and dented the lower passenger body molding. Yet even with my damaged–and now as we approach 2016, aging–2009 Honda Civic, I still felt prideful.
Several days ago, the conundrum of my wrong thinking was almost certainly conclusively resolved. Somehow, we missed our monthly vehicle insurance payment and our policy cancelled. Three days later a massive tree fell on it as it was parked in our driveway, shattering the rear window and taillight, twisting the rear deck lid out of alignment, and crinkling the rear quarter panel. The poor adjuster seemed genuinely miserable as she informed me there was nothing she could do if she was to preserve her own job. Now, whether or not we will be able to reconstruct my damaged car, it will no longer be a sight for any degree of pride!
God loves us, and whenever we go too far off-kilter, He cares enough to reel us back in. Just as a loving parent will not allow their child to continue in wrong behavior, He disciplines us too. It isn’t pleasant and sometimes it genuinely hurts, but that is what accomplishes His intent. Unpleasantness and pain cause us to begin questioning “why,”and eventually our thoughts are directed back toward what is wrong in our own life.
Of course, God may allow bad things to happen to teach us a lesson. In our case, He may also have been allowing us to learn the lesson of consequences–that if you allow your policy to cancel and something happens you will be personally liable. How grateful I am that others were not involved, that no personal injury or loss of life occurred!
Sometimes, God allows bad things to happen to test us. Testing reveals our true character, and while God already knows this, it is an opportunity for us to choose right or wrong and as such, reveals to us how we respond to trying circumstances. As part of the tree incident I was also asked by the insurance company’s representative whether this had been a living tree as of last summer. I immediately recognized this as a pivotal question designed to determine if they could pin the responsibility for the loss on us, and hemmed and hawed (looking back, I do not believe I actually even uttered any recognizable words in response to that question!). She continued as if I had said “yes,” and ultimately this became an irrelevant issue because the policy had already cancelled, but my lack of straightforwardness bothered me so much that I prepared a detailed explanation to clarify had they agreed to pay.
Lastly, there may be times when God is using us for some other purpose, such as to help someone else. This is frequently categorized as “for the glory of God.” Sometimes bad things happen and we honestly cannot pinpoint why they happened. God loves us very much, but we have to remember that He loves others too, and desires for them also to come to a saving knowledge of Him. As God’s people, we have to submit our will to His and allow ourselves to be used for His greater purposes.
So, how does God relate to us? Does He actively intervene in our lives for our greater good? The unequivocal answer is “Yes!” It may be for the purpose of helping us live more rightly, to teach us a lesson we need to learn, or to give us an opportunity to respond–to show us that we can respond as He would have us–under trying circumstances. It may even be for a higher purpose that we are not aware of, but regardless, we can know with certainty that nothing–even a little sparrow’s death–happens apart from the will of our good Heavenly Father!
Thank You that not even a sparrow falls to the ground apart from Your will. Give us peace; help us to not be afraid–to remember that we are so much more valuable to You! Amen.