Speaking Gratefully: God is in Control

One of my little vices is listening to talk radio in the car. It allows me to keep up with the local news, the national hysteria, and the latest celebrity fund-raising gimmicks for one charity or another all at the same time. One local show is very entertaining and informative, as well as somewhat objective.

To make things even more interesting, the host claims he is a Bible-believing Christian. Mixing religion, politics, and current events can lead to interesting confrontations, as it did recently.  The topic, of course, was President Trump’s attempts to stop the president-elect’s confirmation.

At one point, the host claimed he would be grateful to God for President Trump regardless of how things went. He elaborated by making the point, President Trump’s Supreme Court choices made him grateful, even in the face of rulings he might not like.

A short time later, a caller challenged the host on his comment. The caller was upset about the court’s decision to refuse to hear the Texas litigation designed to overturn the 2020 election. The caller wondered if the host would still be grateful if the court made other decisions that conservatives did not like.

The host took the easy way out. He said he could not know what decisions the court might render.  I say he took the easy way out because answering the question to most people’s satisfaction would be impossible.

The true answer would be, “I will be grateful because I believe God has a plan, and whatever the court rules will further that plan.”  Of course, the vast majority of the people hearing such an answer would find it unsatisfactory. Not only would they find it unsatisfactory, but they would also charge the host with trying to weasel-word his way out of the situation.

The problem facing the host, or anyone, trying to answer such a question reminds me of the Jack Nicholson line in an old movie. While testifying in a court marital Nicholson’s character explodes, “You can’t handle the truth!” His response is to Tom Cruise’s character shouting, “I want the truth!”

If one is a believer, there is truth in the belief that God has a plan. There is also truth in the statement that everything, including Supreme Court rulings, may be part of that plan. The problem is we may not always like God’s plan, and the old quip, “in His time,” is something we may not like either.

The Bible teaches many bad things will happen before God’s plan is fulfilled. Someone understanding that is one thing; being okay with it is another. That is why attempting to use God’s plan in a discussion such as the one mentioned above may not go the way one would hope.

I made this point some years ago in a piece titled Of Job and Ants.  In Biblical times people understood their relationship with God.  They knew His plan was to be fulfilled. They also knew they might not appreciate everything that happened in the interim. Still, they would believe it was part of God’s plan. They would understand things, court rulings, laws, elections, crimes they did not like would take place, but that did not mean He was not in control.

Unfortunately, the phrases “In His Time” and “God’s perfect timing” are not understood by many believers, much less skeptics, and others. If that were not bad enough, many so-called Christian leaders today distort the idea of a “Loving God,” especially those in the health, wealth, and prosperity pulpits.

God made the Israelites wander in the wilderness for forty years because they were not ready to enter the promised land. He allowed, and still allows, Christians to be looked down upon in some countries and persecuted mercilessly in others.

If Job were alive today, he would know what the host meant. A few years, or decades, of questionable Supreme Court decisions, should not cause great despair. Job would know, as would Paul, Stephen, and many others in New Testament times, that suffering and disappointment are inevitable. Still, they would be grateful that God is in control because of what awaits believers in the future.

There are reasons for the trials, tribulations, and disappointments we all face on Earth. That is the point that needed making. That is the explanation the caller needed to hear. Unfortunately, that is a bit much to explain in a few minutes on the radio. 

© sinnerswalk.com – 2021

About S. Eric Jackson

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