‘It Was God’s Will’

image

A dear friend wrote a very funny piece on the use of platitudes  recently, Friends don’t let friends use platitudes. Although I found it very funny, it made me sit up and listen to what I say to people who’ve had unfortunate things happen to them. Out of her list of ten common platitudes that people use,  I found I had used two or three consistently, although I believed for good reasons. I also found that people generally use them when they cannot explain why they did something stupid or when their limited human understanding cannot allow them to explain terrible things that happen to other people.

The most common platitude that I have found is used with reckless abandon amongst people I know is “It was God’s will”. This is generally said to a person who is mourning someone very dear to them, and meant to convey that “even though this situation appears to have elements of evil in it, do not for one second think that God abandoned you. It was his will to take your beloved”. What the ….? Run that by me again, are you saying God purposefully took the one person I loved with all my heart, that it was his will that I hurt like I’ve never hurt before?

I’m extremely reluctant to discuss my thoughts on God on a public platform, for the simple reason that people often use their religion or beliefs to reveal their uncivilized side, leading to all manner of insults. But I was watching a TV program recently and a member of a provincial government chose to answer a question by invoking that most misused of platitudes: It was God’s will. This she said in reference to the death of a six-year-old boy who fell into the pit of a pit toilet in Limpopo a few weeks ago.

“God’s will?” That set off a deluge of unprintable words and phrases in my head. But what came out of my mouth was “What kind of a God would purposefully snatch a six-year-old boy from his parents in such a horrible way?”

Let me get this one thing out of the way before proceeding, I cannot imagine a world in which God is not at the centre of its existence, so if you were going to go all righteous on me thinking I’ve turned my back on my God, think again. All I’m questioning is why is it that we purport to worship an all-loving God but then ascribe the most horrible things to Him.

A God who is love would not visit evil things on his children. When a child dies, it is a premature death, whichever way you look at it. A loving God would not snatch away a child from people He loves. It’s not logical. God works in mysterious ways but not evil or painful ways.

It’s a very painful thing  to hear supposed men of God stand on a pulpit and continuously say you lost your loved one because “It was God’s will”. Ke Thato ya Modimo, that’s the Tswana/Sotho equivalent. I include it here because it’s the most commonly used where around me and although it carries the same weight in translation to “It was God’s will” it’s slightly more “offensive” if you will. It carries the unexplainable connotation that it was “the will of God, what he loved or purposed for you”.

My friend suggested that if you don’t know what to say to a person who’s had terrible things happens to him/her why don’t you just say “sh*t that sucks! sorry it happened to you” or ” I don’t really know what to say”. Better yet, why don’t you simply say “this is such a terrible thing to have happened to you, I wish I could explain it but I can’t”. That’s more comforting than telling a person “the deity you call your Creator willed for this terrible tragedy to happen to you, he ‘loved’ and purposed it for you”.

For people who are mere creations of this loving God, we sure speak so much on his behalf. When we do not understand things we tell others he works in mysterious ways. When we can not explain tragedy we call it “His Will”.

The official who stated that the death of the toddler was God’s will was avoiding taking responsibility for the actions(or lack of actions) of her department. The interviewer had suggested to her that her department should take responsibility should a similar tragedy  occur because she has had ample warning by way of the toddler’s preventable death. A preventable death is just that, a death that could have been prevented if human beings had done what they are appointed to do. We cannot ascribe human negligence to God.

Luckily, the God in the Bible does clarify some things for us: in the book of John 10 verse 10 he tells us, among other things that “… I came so that you might have life, and have it in abundance(more abundantly)”. I am yet to come across scripture that says every horrible death is through my will.

I have been reasonably fortunate in life that I have not had a lot of instances that people have come up to me and looked me in the eye and told me  “it was God’s will”. The one time that it did happen, it hurt a lot and I kept asking myself the one question that a person who believes in an all-loving God should never have to ask themselves, “What kind of God is it that takes the life of someone so young and so horribly?”. It cannot be his loving will. It is people ascribing it to him.

Like my friend says, when terrible things happen to other people, simply say to them, “Sh*t happens, I’m sorry it happened to you'(obviously paraphrasing). Don’t blame it on God.

Advertisements

10 responses

  1. This is one of the most intriguing post I’ve ever read. Of course we don’t know why sometimes some terrible things happen like the six-year-old boy who died, the child who bornt with down syndrom or like my aunt’s friend daughter bornt with a tumor in her head.This little girl came to the city I live in order to do the treatment and my aunt called me and asked me to give all support…She was her mother’s first daughter and her motehr was in deep afliction and also her father, her whole family and me too. I looked to her and it was a hard moment, I couldn’t do anything: I just prayed to God and asked my friends to pray for her too. Everybody was praying for her life. Nobody knew why God allowed that, as you told God’s plans are mysterious and His ways we can’t understand. For a lot of times in my life I have asked if it is/was God’s will. I believe in loving God, of course and then it is hard to believe that a loving God could allow bad things. It is hard to believe that is God’s will allow we face painful moments…However, I believe that “God works in all things for the good of those who love Him” (Rm 8:28).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading Deuseline. Much appreciated. I think we are in agreement that he is a loving God. We are also in agreement(I hope) that it would never be his will to bring an expectant parent a child afflicted with tumours, because that would go against his nature, his nature being love. We don’t know why certain bad things happen to people but they do and a section of God’s people want to tell others that it is God’s will. I agree with Romans 8:28, in fact it is central to my beliefs as a Christian that a loving God can take a terrible situation and turn it around for your good.

      But to say He willed it to happen is wrong. He allowed it to happen, yes. Christians consider it a lack of faith to question certain things but we do ourselves and the world a disservice if we perpetuate the myth that it is God’s will for bad things to happen to people. Thank you for reading and your considered comment, you are a true friend.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I totally agree with you when you say “But to say He willed it to happen is wrong. He allowed it to happen, yes.” I don’t believe that God feels happiness with our suffering and pain.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The worst thing is, as you say, when people use this as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility. If pit toilets and other obvious dangers need to be fixed, then those responsible should fix them. The general public needs to put pressure on, too, and not accept these kinds of cop-outs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading Heidi, Much appreciated. You are right, people need to take responsibility for what they have been assigned to do. Blaming God for preventable deaths is a cop-out.

      Like

  3. “What kind of God is it that takes the life of someone so young and so horribly? It cannot be his loving will. It is people ascribing it to him.”

    It completely perplexes me how you suggest that people shouldn’t ascribe characteristics of evil to the god of the bible and shouldn’t speak on his behalf when you are doing exactly that. How do you know it wasn’t his will? Have you asked him?

    It’s important to consider for as long as people believe in an invisible being that sits in the sky and is responsible for all the good in the world, they will also assign all responsibility to him to avoid taking the fall.

    I’m not going to argue about the existence of god because in this Information Age, I can’t tell you anything that isn’t already out there. However, when you decide to quote the bible to prove god’s goodness, don’t be selective to suite your point. I can give you a plethora of quotes to the contrary. E.g. “Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives raped.” (Isaiah 13:16). Are these the words of a loving god? Or, “Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants nor will they look with compassion on children.” (Isaiah 13:18)

    I agree with you that people should take responsibility and in the instance you describe, it is a terrible tragedy and equally despicable that someone would say it was god’s will that that should’ve happened. But what I’m putting to you is that this is what religion does. It makes people excuse their own despicable behaviour, it makes people avoid responsibility and they have every right because the very model of religious belief is that all life and manner of things are the will of god. Nothing can happen without him willing it to happen unless in the contradictory instance the devil makes it happen which is a whole other angle I do not wish to explore here.

    I believe, personally, that Africa will begin to solve its problems when we stop believing in a being that makes things happen for us. When we start realising that we are brainwashed and that our lives are in our own hands, we will begin to fight for change. Just my 2 cents. Thanks.

    Like

    1. Thank you Shelleyphire for reading, I’m truly grateful that you did and even more so that you took the time to respond.

      I’m quite perplexed that you should say I’m speaking on God’s behalf, not once do I say God says “This is my will” or “This isn’t my will”, and no I haven’t asked him, but when I get to that level of faith, where I believe I can have a friendly chat with him over anything, I will be very quick to write it down and share with everybody.

      You probably noticed that in my quoting of the verse that I did, I said “he gives us an indication”, I did not say “this is His will”, finish and klaar. The Information Age has indeed taught me that I cannot be dogmatic about what I believe to be true, so I continue to learn everyday about God and the world we inhabit.

      Like you, I would like to avoid getting into a tit-for-tat about His existence or non-existence. It is impossible not to quote the Bible selectively, it’s quite a huge book. You will notice that you yourself only quoted a very tiny portion of Isaiah 13, and I too can give you a plethora of chapters and verses that would show you are quoting selectively to suite your viewpoint. I’m certain you will appreciate that the same Isaiah 13 verse 11 says ” And I , The Lord , will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their guilt and inequity, I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible and the boasting of the violent and ruthless”. I will not argue the point that the Old Testament is full of examples of a ruthless God, but it’s also full of examples of a loving God. By the way, even though a Christian believes the whole Bible, their faith is based on the New Agreement with God, the New Testament, the teachings of Christ, hence Christians.

      Let’s agree that if I cannot speak for God, neither can you.

      I hope at the end of your reading my piece you appreciated that its focus was in dealing with the pain of a loss of a loved one. Whether or not God is invoked, that pain is real and telling the mourner “It was God’s will” does not help ease their pain, it makes it worse.

      I share your views on Africa and its people. We need to do things for ourselves. Our failure to do things for ourselves cannot be blamed solely on the belief in the God of the Bible, a lot of countries in Africa do not worship him yet their countries are in dire straits. Again, thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think we must really be careful about God and we’re not able to tell what is or not His will when bad things happen. I do not believe it is His will we face suffering, pain, diseases, etc. If we look to Bible we’ll see that these things are consequences of our sins and desobedience, just as He told in Deuteronomy 28. Because of our sins, desobedience God aloows good and bad things to come to our lives. However, in a general way, I don’t believe that His permission means His will. Of course, in some cases the pain is God’s will, as we can see in 2Co 12: 7 “Of course, I am now referring to the wonderful things I saw. One of Satan’s angels was sent to make me suffer terribly, so that I would not feel too proud.[b]” or the case of Job (book of Job).

    Then you may say God is cruel. No, He isn’t! There was a purpose in God’s will of make Paul and Job suffer terribly. He knew who were these men and their suffering in my opinion was a way of God prevent both of them of be caught by Evil.

    Like

  5. I love your response to the platitude, “it’s God’s will.” I read somewhere that people’s interpretation of God tends to have a lot to do with their relationship with their parents. So, when someone says, “it’s God’s will,” they are also saying that they expect their parents to do inexplicably cruel things.

    You make an important distinction between God willing something to happen, and God allowing it.

    You did great attacking this platitude. You did great pointing out the negligence that such a statement allows.

    I am so sorry that this event brought up your feelings about your brother’s death. Peace be with you.

    Like

    1. Thank you for reading and your very kind comments Grace.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Black eye mag

Because there's no black future without no black vision

Can Anybody Hear Me?

Uncovered Myself One Pound at a Time; Still Discovering Myself One Day at a Time

ellisnelson

children's author

micahdoes

Living wide and eating well.

How Leaders Manage

Shape your Character change your life.

On The Heath

where would-be writer works with words

♥♥SOSHI LOVE ♥♥

My life & Korean language journey

MamaDimensions

Being, in all the ways, Living, in all the ways, Communicating, in all the ways, Loving, in all the ways

Sweden and the Middle East Views

Articles, updates & views - from another angle than in your mainstream Western media

TB Joshua Watch

A comprehensive resource on TB Joshua and SCOAN

Dixi

Alis volat propriis

Hopefully Bikiniskinni

About my journey to becoming, hopefully, bikini skinny.

Little Miss Understood

Striving to be better one post at a time.

bluestockings magazine

bluestockings is an anti-oppressive publication committed to centering narratives of people from marginalized and historically resilient communities, across multiple axes of oppressed identity.

Globe Drifting

Global issues, travel, photography & fashion. Drifting across the globe; the world is my oyster, my oyster through a lens.

Tea With Charlie

Your Daily Cup of T.

What Beautiful Light

Photos, Commentary, and Videos by Rudy Owens

chanyado

Chanyado. Shade. Respite from the sun. A place under the tree to rest my head, and wiggle my toes out in the sun.

One Man's Opinion

The views gained from leading an interesting life.

The Newswatch Television Official Blog

Telling America's Story for Over 20 Years

Deconstructing Myths

Social justice is built one idea at a time...

The World I Want

creating space

Artfully Aspiring

Making Every Day A Masterpiece

borderlineblossom

A fight with my Life

Bold Blind Beauty

Real Beauty Transcends Barriers

%d bloggers like this: