Frequently, due to sin, rebellion, and the other factors, God simply withdraws His protective hand and allows sin, Satan, and chaos to have their way.
Everything we have seen in the Chaos Theory leads up to this final point. God has incarnated Himself into the world in such a way that He gives away aspects of true freedom and power to His creatures to do with it what they will. But when we misuse this freedom and power, God does not (indeed cannot) simply stop the ways we abuse our freedom and power, for then it would no longer be genuine freedom or power.
As a result of our rebellious decisions and misuse of power, nature flies out of control and creates chaos all around us. Satan, who is at war with God and His creation, seeks to destroy anything that comes from God or aligns itself with God. And wherever sin is found, it eats away at everything it touches. Through His incarnation and by His infinite wisdom and foreknowledge, God slows the death and decay down, and rescues those who are perishing in sin and destruction, but frequently, due the nature of sin, the consequences of abused freedom, and the misuse of power, God cannot stop the natural results of rebellion. When this happens, nature falls into chaos, the destroyer destroys, and sin brings death.
When humans persist in sin despite God’s frequent attempts to call them toward obedience and to warn them of what will happen if they continue down the path they are on, there comes a point where sometimes, God simply withdraws His hand of protection and allows people to suffer the consequences for their sin, for chaos to reign, and for Satan to bring death and destruction. I have put this principle last because I think that this element of the Chaos Theory is the last resort for God.
When bad things happen to us in life, we should not be too quick to believe that God has withdrawn His hand of protection, but instead, should go first consider some of the other elements of the Chaos Theory as possible explanations for what has happened to us. So also with some of the terrible events in Scripture. We must not be too quick to say that God has withdrawn His protection from a certain person or place so that sin, death, and the devil can have their way.
Nevertheless, there are times when God withdraws from some people so that they can suffer the consequences for their sin and rebellion against Him. Usually when this happens in Scripture, the text makes it fairly clear that this is what is going on, and often, this withdrawal is only after numerous and varied attempts by God to get the people to repent of their ways and return to Him and to warn them of what will happen if they continue to rebel.
There are several examples of this in Scripture, some of which will be looked at in the next chapter, but for now, we might see evidence of this sort of withdrawal of God’s protective hand in the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:37. In this text, Jesus says that God has sent numerous prophets to Jerusalem to call them back to obedience, but rather than listen, they continue to stone the prophets that are sent. Jesus says that God has wanted to gather them under His wing for protection, but they were not willing!
As a result, death and destruction will come upon Jerusalem. We must not read into this passage the idea that God is sending the death and destruction. No, the text is clear that God is trying to deliver and protect His people from the destruction, but they would not listen to His warnings and were not willing to come to Him. And so, death would come, not from God, but from the armies that would sweep in and leave not one stone standing upon another.How can a God who says "Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44) be the same God who instructs His people in the Old Testament to kill their enemies?
These are the sorts of questions we discuss and (try to) answer in my online discipleship group. Members of the group can also take ALL of my online courses (Valued at over $1000) at no charge. Learn more here: Join the RedeemingGod.com Discipleship Group I can't wait to hear what you have to say, and how we can help you better understand God and learn to live like Him in this world!
Genevieve Thul@Turquoise Gates says
As someone who has suffered deeply at the hands of the church thanks to their belief that suffering in our family was due to some secret sin of mine, I must speak up and voice my belief that people should still refrain from judging the suffering individual. The passage that comes to mind first is Matthew 7: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” The other verse that comes to mind is this one, which directly related to my experience and helped me understand in the wake of shunning that the depth of my suffering was not from God, or from His removal of His protection – but from the other sinners who saw fit to “teach me a lesson”:
Forgiveness for the Offender
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient.7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. (2 Corinthians 5)
Please, please be cautious about applying this truth to others. I believe it is a truth most useful internally, a litmus test for our souls when we are suffering. If there is no conviction from the Holy Spirit, extend yourself some grace and lean hard into the comforting arms of the Savior, who bears our burdens whether they are sinful or righteous.
Hear, hear… well said Genevieve.
We truly have a Great Physician and Comforter, eh?
Peace to you,
Edwin Pastor FedEx Aldrich says
I actually counseled a family a few months ago that had the same experience with a church. The church leadership refused to help the family when the mother and father were diagnosed with cancer only’months apart. They were concerned that if they helped, they would be getting in the way of God’s discipline.
This thinking did so much harm to both the parents and the children, and now a few years later they are still recovering. I have often said that Christian ministers should be required to take a form of the hypocratic oath. If they cannot help a hurting person, then at least promise that you won’t cause harm and make things worse.
Sorry about your experience, I spend so much time trying to help people recover from church-inflicted wounds. Sometimes I really do have to say, “God, I love you, but I am having a tough time loving your folowers.” Peace to you sister.
Indeed. Original damage is one thing, but then there’s the rest of your life dealing with the church.
I often say there was the abuse of childhood, and then there was/is the spiritual abuse rampant after that while it judges how I survived and cope w the original abuse. I hate to say it but believers are worse than non believers in that regard, because everything wrong w you is spiritualized into having something to do with your faith. A friend from our church once said to me ‘I don’t understand why you don’t just let Jesus heal you’. Wow. My response was….who told you he intends to? Lol
Jeremy Myers says
Thank you for the kind and insightful words. I am very sorry that you were treated this way. It is not Christian to treat others this way, and is not at all the way God feels about you.
I don’t think God does this often or frequently, and maybe not even with individuals, and even if He did, I don’t think there is any way we can possibly know that this is what is going on, and therefore, we should never claim to know that it is.
As you say, saying such things can be very damaging.
Could not have said it better!! Indeed, she was a victim of a Pharisee mindset. So sad. It’s things like this give true Christianity a bad mark. Hope Genevieve finds Christians who love her for herself and a healthy church!
Jerry M Korkoskie says
it’s a sad situation. the church is supposed to be a hospital for the spiritually sick and for those who need restoration and to help those to get to a more closer walk with the Lord etc. I’ve served the Lord at my church for 17 years and my life has been shattered and my heart tore apart and the church is no where to be found. I didn’t go to church for a fan club or to get stars on the calendar I served as a Sunday school teacher for two classes and went out with our church to tell others about Jesus and I didn’t want any parts on the back I didn’t try to get recognized I laid low but this is what I get. Many in the church will say they care about people in my case or your situation but their actions never show that unfortunately. I got a message from my pastor finally after a long time telling me they really miss me in church but they don’t or didn’t have some one to encourage me,no two minute text messages no cards in the mail andy church has almost 300 people and no one notices that I am even gone. My wife left me took out children to another state so I can’t see them falsely and wrongly accused me of doing something that never happened the case was dropped I have the proof of it not sure if Ill.have a place to stay one day or the next but God!!! God has done some awesome things for me inspite of all.of this. I am.so.glad that God didn’t leave me for dead like my church left me I am so glad Jesus didn’t leave Lazarus for dead and I am so glad that he didn’t say to Peter so long sucker we can replace you Peter etc. Sad real sad!!
Why should we be surprised when the natural consequences of what we or even others have done visit themselves upon us? Walk through poison ivy and we may get poison ivy. Poison the air, earth and water and someday we’ll pay the price. Use derogatory terms and references for people of other races and gender attractions and that too may some day come knocking at our door.
On the other hand, observing the troubles others may be having and trying to connect those troubles to someone’s sin, imagined or real, is indeed the exercise of of a foolish person who would have us believe that God tells them what he is up to. Ah yes, the very same God who never told Job why he does what he does used a verse or two from the Bible to tell them why someone’s dear wife died, why a hurricane struck New York City, and why another lost their job and now is living under a bridge.
Jeremy Myers says
So much truth and wisdom here, Sam!
In light of the recent Supreme Court decision, I cringe in advance at what some pastors and radio preachers will say as soon as the next “natural disaster” hits America…. Guess who is going to get the blame?
Jeremy Myers says
Some of them anyway…. we’ll take a sampling…
Erp Thompson on Facebook says
Another interpretation of events that shifts the responsibility from us to God … What are we … 6? … “It’s not my fault!”
Jeremy Myers on Facebook says
Erp, Did you even read the post? What in the world are you talking about? Based on the content of my post, your comment is gibberish.
Erp Thompson on Facebook says
Yes, I did. I believe that God’s protection is always there but we have to choose it … It’s our responsibility to move ourselves into that space. If we don’t, protection is not forced upon us anymore than it is withdrawn. Conditional love is a human behavioral trait, not a Divine one.
Jeremy Myers on Facebook says
I agree with what you wrote in this last comment 100%. The overall thought flow of my series shows this.
Vince Latorre says
I think the key word is that God “allows”. He allows people to reap what they sow. So many times things people call “acts of God” are really “acts of sin.”
Jeremy Myers says
Yes, the key word is “allows” though in recently (within the past week), I have begun to rethink this word too. It implies that He could have stopped the action, but didn’t. Instead, He “allowed” it. That is not what I meant by the term, but that is the way some people are understanding my use of it, and so I am trying to think of a different word to use, or a different way of explaining what I mean.
Vince Latorre says
The way I look at the “allow” idea is that God lets things run their course, and allows people to experience their choices and more importantly, the consequences of those choices, rather than putting a stop to either.
Jeremy Myers says
I think that is a fair explanation, and pretty much the way I understand it as well.
Jeremy, you said, “There are several examples of this in Scripture, some of which will be looked at in the next chapter, but for now, we might see evidence of this sort of withdrawal of God’s protective hand in the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:37. ”
So, what’s the name of the next chapter?
Wow. I realize I am coming into this late…sorry. Not sure where to even begin. ALL discussion here is about Gods protection, or his removal of it, being with the individual who is doing the sinning. Biblically, it is the person who ignores the Spirit so many times that God finally ‘gives them over’ to their sin. The suffering you all then speak of is the natural consequences of that sin. Makes sense. This permeates Scripture. Yes, God does withdraw his protection and blessing from those who refuse to ‘choose it’ by abiding in the Spirit.
No one reads these accounts and has a faith crisis over someone suffering the consequences of his own repetitive sin.
But no….God’s protection is NOT ‘always there’, even for those who are not the ones as described above. There is no logic that can interpret why God chooses to restrain his protection from a 4 year old girl when her grandfather (Christian) decides to use her for….well, whatever he wants. And two years later, when that little girl who believes in Jesus continues to pray over and over that He would help her somehow and that if she’s done something bad she is so sorry….and He STILL has not granted any hand of protection….there is still no logical reason. By the time she’s 6 and things have just gotten worse….no amount of praying, repenting, pleading, or rationalizing has given way to her Jesus finally deciding enough is enough and stretching out his omnipotent hand to somehow intervene. But STILL she prays. Still she believes. Still…she hopes He must love her and…will now that she’s 10…come to her aid and protect her. Nope. By now she has ingrained in her heart that obviously something must be wrong with her. She must be guilty! It’s the only answer for why God would withhold any protection from her, right? I mean, maybe she’s just condemned by association with her grandfather and what ‘they’ do. Takes two after all. So ya….that’s it. But….I can still be sorry. I can still tell Jesus how sorry I am and ask for his forgiveness! He promises to give it. And THEN..then I’ll be washed white as snow and he’ll be able to stop all this. You know….able as in, not self limited because of my sin. So I’ll just keep praying. I’ll keep being sorry. I’ll keep being ashamed and guilty. I’ll keep asking and hoping that he comes for me somehow. At 12 years old, she sees that nothing is going to stop it. She knows that, just as it got worse as the years went on, it would continue to. Now, the terror of what that would mean was greater than the terror of what would happen if she dared tell someone. So she did. They told her she was a liar! So, a few months later, she told someone else. They told her they guessed she should tell her mom. Sooo…again, no help. She had to be brave enough to say something to her mother. It was doing that that at least kept it from continuing. Though she still wasn’t believed when she tried to explain that her grandmother had known for some time.
That little girl never did get any help. She’s 43 with complex PTSD, scars on her arms and drinks a 5th almost every night. She still believes in Jesus though. She still knows He was/is who He said he was/is. She still prays. Asks for forgiveness, especially for her lack of faith and trust. “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” But don’t try to tell her that God sometimes chooses not to protect. He is sovereign and I guess he can do whatever He sees fit and we don’t have to have an answer for it. Oh people have gone back to trying to offer up the same explanations over and over throughout the years. It’s because the grandpa kept sinning….he made the choice to abuse her and…well Jesus couldn’t stop him! That would have interfered with his free will. Hm. Ok. What about HER free will? Her choice? Before she was 20 or so….her grandpa was dead from cancer. Why didn’t God just allow the cancer 20 years before? Or even 10? I mean…God is the ultimate creative genius. He could’ve done anything to shift the situation. But somehow it was His will to allow it to continue and ‘play itself out’. No….you can’t tell this ‘girl’ it wasn’t Gods will either. Oh of course I don’t think it was his IDEA! But it WAS His will to allow it. If it weren’t he would’ve been acting in opposition of His own will. Now talk about making no sense.
All this to say that….a large majority of the little ‘grasshoppers’ (Isaiah 40) have such a hard time coming to grips with what God does or doesn’t do….and who He does or doesn’t protect. So they come up with theories that they base on the attributes of God that they have to hold on to for their OWN protection. Cuz it’s just too freakin scary to think that sometimes….God does NOT protect his people….even the little, innocent ones. (And yes, I realize no one is innocent, human nature and all. Heard that a million times too).
I don’t ask for much anymore. Sure ain’t askin for sympathy or trying to make out like poor me. Millions of people have it a lot worse than me. And guess what? A lot of them are Christians who are not living in constant sin and willful disobedience.
SMW, I sympathize with what you say. People who suffer from severe emotional trauma (really, even minor trauma) have a potential healer named Jesus, but Christian leaders are unaware how to bring them to Jesus for healing in a real meaningful way. Another REALLY important aspect to emotional healing is demonization (which the majority of the Church does not even touch). Christians are the enemy of demons, so we are all THE REAL target for demons because they want to find a way to keep Christians from becoming what God wants us to become. Demons love emotional garbage and try to perpetuate it when they find a “foothold” on anyone. Demonization has a degree of extremes. People with extreme emotional trauma almost always have demons perpetuating the situation/emotions. There is much more on the subject and it’s not difficult to obtain freedom if you want it; I have done a lot of reading/training in the area of prayer ministry to help believers. A very good book on the subject is “Defeating Dark Angels” by Charles Kraft.
Actually, I DID have a great deal of spiritual oppression during the abuse, and again years after it reappered in the same way. I am so very thankful that Jesus did show me how he is in authority over ‘them’. He revealed to me how he protects me from them, which I believe even in spite of my difficulty in understanding why his protection was withheld from me as a child. At one point they were just gone and they’ve never returned. In my book they aren’t worth dwelling on.
My issues are not with demons. They’re with people.
I got into sexual sin..the holy spirit convicted me but kept going back..told holy spirit don’t want to hear u right now..when I finally repented only out of desperation,I now realize it was worldly sorrow..I’m in so much torment and fear and feel hard..God won’t come back to me.feel I’m lost..has anyone one here ever had worldly sorrow turn into godly sorrow..I now repent but feel God won’t accept it due to my worldly sorrow..David had godly sorrow..if someone knows what I’m talking about can u please call me..,660 620 3759 thank u
Danielle Brantley says
Please help….my life is in chaos….Is there anything I can do? I am trying to see if there is anything I need to repent of….I have been suicidal ….its’s been very bad…..Will God please have mercy on me?