Q. I hear a lot from people with Reformation background that God disciplines you through hardship and suffering. They claim this in the name of their definition of Sovereignty. They claim that God is in control of everything so if you are suffering he actually designed it for you to suffer for his cause. This doesn’t really sit well with me, because I grew up knowing that God is a loving God, so I never associated suffering with him, and as his form of disciplining. I always associate suffering with the sinfulness of this world, not something orchestrated by God to teach some form of a lesson. Can you please share your thoughts on this?
A. This is one of several great errors in reform theology and has done more harm to the body of Christ than we will ever know. First, because it has transferred the blame for all the pain and suffering in the world from sin, and therefore Satan, to God. Second, it has caused the gift of healing to be suppressed in some circles because those who teach that illness comes from God for His purposes caution their followers not to ask Him for healing.
Saying God is in control of everything is also a direct contradiction of claims by Jesus who called Satan the prince (ruler) of this world (John 14:30), by Paul who called him the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4), and by John who said the whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19).
It’s also an attack on the character of God who loved us enough to die for us so we could live with Him. For what purpose would God afflict us after we declare our love for Him? To make us better Christians? To Him we’re already perfect (Hebrews 10:12-14), a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) as righteous as He is (2 Cor. 5:21). All this was made so by His shed blood. And when He takes us to be with Him, no part of our earthly self will enter heaven with us.
Isaiah 53:4-5 tells us that one purpose of the Lord’s suffering and death was so we could be healed. It doesn’t make any sense to me that the same God who went through all that for us would also strike us with illness whenever it suited Him to do so.