Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever. — Brennan Manning

All this talk about living in exile—about God working backstage and meeting our needs while we live our lives on stage—well, that all sounds pretty good… until we encounter serious evil in our world.

  • A group of Christians is beheaded on a beach.
  • The stock market tanks, erasing a lifetime worth of savings.
  • A child gets cancer.
  • Hundreds of thousands of innocent refugees are driven from their homelands by war.

I mean, this raises questions doesn’t it? Who is in charge when all hell seems to cut loose? If God is in control, are we just puppets? Or has God lost control because we can decide what we are doing on stage?

There are two different sets of theologians that argue about this incessantly. The “Arminians” see the world from the stage where humans decide how to act with free will. The “Calvinists” view the world from backstage where God directs everything in complete sovereignty. Who’s right?

The answer is, “yes.” Both are correct. We know from the Bible that God is directing everything from behind stage and we know from the Bible (as well as our own experience) that we make our own decisions on stage. We have a stage and we have a backstage. They interplay in such a way that God understands but you and I never will… until one day when we leave the stage and step backstage for good.

Seek the LORD while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
      declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
(Isaiah 55:6-9)

Daniel didn’t spend his life pondering why evil had befallen him. He didn’t question God’s sovereignty. He spent his life resting in God’s sovereignty and making decisions that reflected his belief in God’s goodness and God’s control. That’s why he was able to thrive, and it’s why we can, too.

God of All, I praise You because of what I know and because of what I don’t know. I worship You because of what I can understand and, by faith, for the things I cannot understand. Lead me right now into decsions that reflect Your goodness and Your control. Amen.

Taken from Pete’s series Living in Exile: God Working Behind the Scenes.