Lately, I cringe when someone says "God is in control."
Not because my faith in God has diminished. I still believe God is real, we are created in God's image, God is holy ("set apart" as totally unique, perfect in every way) and "omni"(omnipresent-omniscient-omnipotent = unrestricted access to place-perception-power). God is more than we can describe and beyond the complete comprehension of our intellectual and relational capacities.
Nonetheless, the statement "God is in control" throws me into cognitive dissonance.
"Cognitive dissonance" is used to describe the mental discomfort that results from holding two (seemingly inconsistent) beliefs, values, or attitudes.
#ItSeemsToMe...The statement “God is in control“ is more sentimental than theological and can too easily miscommunicate what “control“ really means.
I believe God is sovereign but sovereignty is not an exact duplicate synonym of control. Sovereignty means God is the supreme authority and has absolute power in the universe God has created. Control indicates an action that intends to determine boundaries and behavior. Sovereignty speaks of God's character, glory, supremacy. Control focuses on function; restriction, regulation, management.
I am convinced "God is in control" is most often understood as "Don't be angry or sad. Everything that happens is God's will and we know God's will is always good, therefore, what feels bad is actually good." In other words, "Get over it; Get on with it..."
When I hear "God is in control" spoken to someone who has suffered a great loss, it sounds like a well-intended but misguided attempt to bring them comfort. I know we must trust God in every circumstance. I seek to do that in my own life. Proverbs 3:5 is my go-to text: "Trust completely in the Lord, do not depend on your own limited understanding. Acknowledge God's wisdom and ways in everything God can make crooked-broken-hurtful paths straight." (my paraphrase).
But, in real situations, "God is in control" may bring peace to some but a platitude to others. If God is truly in control, why did this tragedy happen? Did God cause this suffering? I thought "not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.. Joshua 21:45
I am not reducing God's authority or power. I am suggesting we are using a well intentioned word out-of-place; not the most appropriate term to use when someone is struggling. Comfort and peace should be based on raw, radical, truth; an accurate understanding of the dynamics involved in the given circumstance.
God's sovereignty gives humans free will and allows "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2) to infect people and systems and nations with evil We wrestle against sin-prone impulses within our own soul and battle "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens" Ephesians 6:12. But God is not responsible for my bad choices nor the Enemy's evil strategies.
Yes, sometimes our problems are the result of God's discipline, which can simply be God refusing to interrupt or neutralize the natural consequences of our decision or action. But I have never heard anyone use "God is in control" to challenge someone to confess sin and be accountable for their actions.
Do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons/daughters. For what child is there whom his father does not discipline? Hebrews 12:5-7
We will bring more comfort to the people we love if we reply, "God knows your pain" or "God cares about your troubles, or sorrows" or "How can I help you?"
Maybe our best reply would be "__________." (no words; silence) Just listen. Then pray.
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Our pastor who trained us how to reach out to the sick and hurting, said over and over, "Just listen and pray."
From Brent Cloyd (Church Association Director)
I enjoyed your commentary regarding "God is in control". It is spot on correct.
I get very frustrated with simple answers to complicated questions.
Our responses and our theology is not reflective at all and is harmful to our witness. It is just plain bad theology and bad theology is always uncaring.
My grandfather used to say "It is better not to say so much, than to say so much that is not so".