It has been just over a year since that fateful day when I was placed under observation in Tan Tock Seng Hospital after being hit by an oncoming cyclist. Every time I think about this incident, I am thankful to God that whatever injuries I sustained turned out to be superficial. Apart from the initial head concussion and temporary short-term memory loss, it seems that all that remains today are some scars on my limbs.
These scars serve as a reminder to me that apart from God’s sovereignty and mercies, I could have easily suffered more serious injuries or be struck down with a disability. After all, the cyclist was coming down from a slope at a considerable speed and the brakes on his bicycle had malfunctioned. Furthermore, the ground around me was a hard surface and there was heavy bicycle traffic along the path where I fell.
As a Christian, I can have the assurance that whatever happens in my life is all within God’s sovereign will. Indeed, God never loses control and not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from the will of our Heavenly Father (Matt 10:29). From the example of Job, we also see that Satan could not do one thing to him without the express permission of God.
Furthermore, Scripture reveals that God is holy, good and love. This means that even when things may not have turned out well from our perspective, God is not the one who caused evil or suffering, whether directly or indirectly. If anything, God distances himself from evil as God is holy and cannot lie (Numbers 23:19).
Scripture is clear about this for Habakkuk declares “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate evil” (Hab 1:13). Likewise, James teaches that “God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13). In addition, we need to be mindful that evil does not deter God nor cause God to alter his plan and purposes. Instead, God being sovereign over all is able to allow evil to take place and yet take all that happens and fit it into his perfect plan. His plan is already determined and the outcome will ultimately bring glory to his name.
Admittedly, this fine line of distinction that God allowed evil to happen but is not the cause of it may seem a little too profound for us to understand. Nevertheless, it is a distinction that the Bible clearly makes. It is also this distinction that makes all the difference to how we can continue trusting God despite our experiences or what we see happening around us.
After all, if God is not in total control, then we are utterly vulnerable to external spiritual forces which are seeking to go against God and his people. In addition, our well-being will be confined to the limitations of own finiteness since God is not totally dependable. Can you imagine if the reason why I was unable to avoid the cyclist was because the organising committee had not covered every single participant in that event in prayer? Or that I should have been more diligent in keeping up with an exercise regime so that I can stay alert and agile at all times? Likewise, it will only bring despair if the reason why I was hit was because God has his off-days and just did not feel like stretching his hand to shield me from the hard knock.
When we consider the events leading to Jesus’ death on the Cross, one will discover that the whole thing was “scripted” right down to the details. Whether it was the behaviour of the rooster (Luke 22:60-62) or whether or not the soldiers would break Jesus’ bones (John 19:32-37), everything happened in accordance to God’s will. In fact, the first Christians would affirm that Herod, Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel did “whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:27-28).
In other words, those who crucified Jesus did so in order to accomplish what God’s purpose had predestined beforehand to be done. Yet, at the same time, Scripture indicates that the people who participated in this unjust act of sending an innocent Jesus to death were true moral agents and will be held responsible for their sinful behaviour. Indeed, the Bible would say so over and over again that our choices are our choices and they are true choices in that no one forced us or made us to do so apart from our own desires. Thus, each of us will give an account to God for our words (Matt 12:36-37) and deeds (Romans 14:12).
We may not always know what good purpose God has for something that happened to us. But if God could allow the Cross to take place so that He could put his justice, wrath as well as his infinite grace and forgiveness on display all at the same time in a way that glorifies him and leads to humanity’s greatest good, then we need not fret too much about what tomorrow may bring. As God’s beloved children, may our concerns be more about being obedient to what God has already clearly revealed than being distraught or overwhelmed by what is happening or may happen to us. If a rooster can be obedient to his “assigned” task, I am sure God’s children would delight in doing more.
Rev Edwin Wong
April 22, 2018