This is a very interesting question…and one not so easy to answer.  Sometimes things, good and bad, happen to us because of choices we make.  Sometimes good things happen to bad people.  Sometimes the Lord causes things to happen to us to correct us or teach us valuable lessons. How do we explain that?

We are convinced from the scriptures that the Lord is absolutely sovereign. He can do whatever he wants to, and he can do it whenever he wants to. We also know that whatever the Lord does is right. But does that mean God controls all things all the time?  Does that mean we have no control over what we do and what happens to us? 

We often refer to God’s different wills…He has a direct will, and He has a permissive will.  He has a known will, and He has an unknown will. 

  • Proverbs 16:33 tells us, “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.”
  • Proverbs 19:21 says, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.” 
  • Ephesians 1:5 speaking of our salvation says, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” 

It is absolutely true that the counsel of the Lord will always stand.  That is, God’s direct will cannot be broken or compromised.  When Israel was obedient to the Lord, He caused good things for them as in Jeremiah 15:11, “The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I WILL CAUSE the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.”  When Israel was disobedient to the Lord, He brought judgment upon them as we read in Jeremiah 17:4, “And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I WILL CAUSE thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.” 

Joseph, as a young man was hated by his brothers.  They sold him into slavery when he was but 17 years old. (Genesis 37:2).  While serving in Potiphar’s house, he was falsely accused of attempted rape. (Genesis 39).  He was in prison for more than two years because of Potiphar’s wife’s false accusation. (Genesis 41:1, 14).  Did the Lord cause all these misdeeds to come upon Joseph?  That is hard to say, but we can definitely say the Lord allowed these things to happen for the good of the people.  Because of Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream (after he was taken from prison), Joseph rose to great prominence in Egypt and was used of the Lord to bless many.  He later said to his brothers, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20).

The Lord said to Peter before going to the cross, “Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” (Matthew 26:34).  Did the Lord want Peter to deny Him?  Did he make Peter deny Him?  I don’t think so in either case, but the Lord, knowing exactly what would happen, allowed it to happen.  Was there a reason the Lord allowed this?  Yes, there was!  The Lord said to Peter, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:32). (NKJV).

We, as believers on the Lord Jesus Christ have this wonderful promise in James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  All things that are truly good, come to us from our loving Father.  He loves us, He guides us, He provides for us, etc.  He will work things out in our lives to glorify Himself through us.  With that in mind, we should be very thankful for the Lord’s will and actions towards us.  (CC)  (512.6)