Hell No, This Isn’t All Part Of God’s Plan! (so let’s stop blaming Him for it…)
…thoughtfully expressed by Joseph B. Ostrander
Have well-intentioned family, friends or Christian acquaintances ever told you, “It’s all part of God’s plan” when you were going through a particularly difficult circumstance?
But is it, really? Is all the bullshit-of-life part of God’s plan? Part of His methodology of developing some element of character in us that is incapable of being accomplished apart from the severely negative—and oft times tragic—situations we all deal with in this transitory existence?
Looking back at the times people have said this to me in the midst of suffering, I find myself scratching my head in mild befuddlement that people would believe such a perverted thing…
Such an insensitive and trite response fails to bring anyone any comfort, and impugns the very character of a Loving God that I’ve more fully embraced in my later-in-life theological suppositions.
The idea that a loving God would “plan” to kill thousands of victims in natural disasters, or give people cancer, or cause parents to lose children, or be involved in car accidents, trauma, abuse, and all manner of pain and suffering, is, in all honesty, a truly insane idea…
Think about it: if this is all “according to God’s plan” and every life event is being directed and controlled by Him, wouldn’t you agree that He’s really bad at making plans???
In some of the saddest seasons of loss clueless people have tried to comfort the suffering by claiming, “Of course we’ll never really understand God’s plans.”
Well didn’t Job’s comforters also try to convince him of this: some fixed cosmic principle of divine cause-and-effect?
And how could such plans involving so much heartache be truly understood?
Let’s not be too harsh on them; we can understand what’s being attempted when such things are said. We’re trying to make ourselves or others feel better, and/or trying to make sense of deep sadness and suffering. But really, is this the best way we know how to assuage such things?
Is it merely a poor attempt to believe that all manner of suffering was planned by God, and thus must have some deeper and mysterious beauty about it that is yet undiscovered???
Sometimes people conclude God planned the suffering for our benefit. Other times we are tricked into believing God planned the suffering to chastise us for not measuring up…
No matter how it’s rationalized or explained, we end up at the same spot: if it truly is all part of God’s plan, God must be the author and cause of evil and suffering.
As well-meaning and desperate for answers we may be, trying to fit all of the tragedies and sadness of life into some supposed master plan that God orchestrates actually creates far more problems than it solves. I do feel that any theological notion making God out to be the agent of causation for our suffering ought to be strongly questioned, if not outright rejected. This includes the idea that God has a giant master plan where everything that happens in life is divinely willed and preordained.
Instead of trying to express that God has a “divine plan,” can we consider that God has a divine desire—or a certain will—driven by a divine motivation forged by an unchanging heart? And that this will, this desire, and this heart is always love? Can it ever be anything but love?
This means that whatever God wills, and whatever God desires to bring into reality, is always beautiful and never evil…
God does not will every iteration of human heartache and suffering. God doesn’t will human loss, or the broken chapters we experience in this life…
Those ugly, distorted, broken things have nothing to do with God, and are far outside His good, perfect and pleasing will…
Here’s a thought: instead of trying to rationalize suffering as being from the hand of God—thus making God complicit in the bullshit-of-life—shouldn’t we be quicker to acknowledge that, no, a lot of what we experience in life isn’t God’s plan at all...
And honestly, let’s stop blaming God for some really horrible and tragic life events. Do you imagine it makes Him feel good when we actually believe He caused so-and-so’s car accident, or sent that destructive tornado, or gave cancer to our loved one in order to fulfill a divine version of His own twisted “plan”???
If we acknowledge that the really hard and sad bullshit-of-life events do not come from the hand of God—neither are they planned by nor ordained by God—doesn’t it encourage us into a deeper relationship with a God who joins us in the midst of our suffering (Immanuel), instead of causing it?
Because, dear Coastlands saints, if it’s outside God’s unchanging heart and desires, God grieves that loss and brokenness with us—because it’s also His hopes and dreams for our lives that end up getting smashed as well…
I can’t have a relationship with a god or demiurge who comes along side me in sadness and suffering and tritely intones, “Just trust me that I have my reasons for making your world explode.”
But I can risk having a growing relationship with a God who sits beside me and says, “Yeah, Joseph…this whole thing totally sucks...”
Instead of concluding God has a master plan meticulously dictating and controlling what happens in our lives (often referred to as blueprint theology), I believe God has beautiful hopes, dreams, and desires for each of our lives. When those things come true, He rejoices and celebrates with us. But when those hopes and dreams get smashed to bits, instead of saying “Oh, by the way—I actually did that,” I believe God sits in the dark and mourns those broken dreams with us…
And when our tears have dried enough to hear His voice again clearly, I’m convinced God also whispers, “And I know this can’t replace your loss, but when you’re ready, I’d love to partner with you to try to make something good come out of all this…”
Think about it…