On 14 February 2016 there was a car accident. Actually, there were thousands of car accidents, but only one made international news, had millions of people reading about it, newscasters commenting on it, and even politicians making statements about it.
The car accident in question occurred on the corner of El Camino Real and Castro Street in Mountain View California when a Lexus collided with a bus. It wasn’t a particularly bad accident by any standard. The Lexus was going at 2mph and the bus at 15mph. The worst damage done was a minor dent in the car’s bumper.
So why the media attention?
It had to do with whose fault this little fender bender was. It wasn’t the bus driver’s fault. It wasn’t the car driver’s fault. And that’s because the car didn’t have a driver.
The car was an autonomous vehicle, or experimental driverless car, taking its passenger to Google headquarters.
Google has poured over a billion dollars into the development of driverless cars. These cars have driven over 1.4 million miles in controlled environments, and have now started being released into the real world traffic. The collision of 14 February was the first car accident that was the fault of a driverless car. The car was about to turn when it sensed an open manhole with sandbags around it, so it stopped to allow traffic to go around it and then slowly reversed in order to go around the obstacle. It sensed a bus coming slowly toward it but the algorithms in the driving software predicted that the bus would slow down to allow the car out of its predicament. The algorithm guessed wrong. It failed to recognize that while most car drivers would be courteous enough to allow a fellow driver to maneuver out of trouble, bus drivers tend not to accommodate cars because everyone knows that busses are harder to steer than small cars. Well, everyone knew this except the software that bumped the bus.
The reason this little incident caused a stir was because of the implications. Although driverless cars will cut down the number of car accidents dramatically, they will still cause the occasional fender bender. And frankly, human beings would rather experience pain and suffering that is their own fault, than pain and suffering that is caused by someone they can’t blame, point fingers at, yell at.
Are we ready to live in a world where cars drive around with no one in control? Or are we willing to experience pain and suffering more frequently, as long as there is someone in control, someone to blame?
This is at the heart of the question: Is God really in control of this world, and if so, then why isn’t he preventing accidents and tragedies?
- THE CASE FOR GOD’S CONTROL
What does God say about himself in the Bible?
Is 46:9 …for I am God, and there is no other; …10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’11…I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.
Eph 1:11 …according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
What about the will of man to do as he please?
James 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— …15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
What about randomness, the roll of dice, the flip of a coin?
Prov 16:33 33 the lot is cast in the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
What about bad things that happen to cities, countries, and people? Riots, floods, invasion, water shortages…?
Amos 3:6 6 Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?
What about Satan’s attacks?
Job 1:12 12 the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he [Job] has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
And my favorite – what about the minor details in the world?
Matt 10:28-29 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. … 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.
So I think it’s clear that if we asked God if he was in control of all things, his answer would be an unqualified, unapologetic, resounding: Yes.
But that’s not really satisfying to us is it? So God is in control of all things, but that isn’t really our question.
The question is actually, “If God really is in control, then where is he? Why doesn’t he stop the bad things happening to you, your loved ones and the world?”
If the world were a car it sure seems like it’s driverless. What comfort do we have?
- THE COMFORT OF GOD’S CONTROL
Matt 10:28-31 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
We need to draw our comfort that no matter what happens, none of it is senseless, none of it is meaningless, and none of it random or out of control.
The problem is though that we have a misunderstanding of what God is up to in the world. We assume that his primary job is to keep us relatively happy, healthy, wealthy, and safe.
Like a superhero.
Superman’s job is to hear about bad things happening and then rush there faster than a speeding bullet to stop it. Whether it’s a burning building or a hurricane or a bank robbery or Lex Luthor launching a nuclear warhead, Superman spends his time flying around stopping the bad stuff and then taking a bow.
If that’s God’s goal for us, then he’s not doing a great job.
BUT the Bible makes no such claim.
In fact, Jesus warned in Matt 6:19-20 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
The crime rate in South Africa, and many parts of the world, proves Jesus right. Thieves do indeed break in and steal. Bible-believing Christians do not expect their lives to get better when they become Christians, they expect their lives to get worse. 2 Tim 3:12.
You see, God is NOT in the business of making you love life on earth so much that you don’t need him or want him. He is in the business of making you realize there is so much more than this life!
There is an eternal life in heaven with him where there is no pain, no suffering, no crime, no natural disasters, and no evil people.
2 Cor 4:16-18 16 So we do not lose heart. …17 For this momentary light affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
So when you get cancer, or retrenched, your marriage breaks up or you are victim to an earthquake or a hurricane…..remember, God is not asleep at the wheel, God is not caught off guard. God is as sovereign over every atom of every cell of cancer as he is over the sun and the moon and stars.
It is precisely because God is in control we don’t have to fear earthquakes, floods, crime, global warming, over population, the collapse of the economy, the threat of nuclear war, disease or anything else in all of creation.
God is behind the wheel. God is in control.
This is where we get our comfort: not in understanding exactly what God is doing in our lives, in our country, in the world…but in understanding that whatever he is doing and allowing and limiting and restraining, is for the good of his children and for his ultimate glory in eternity…
Rom 8:28 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
But this is not a privilege for all people, it is only for those who trust in Jesus for salvation.
But the good news is that everyone, everywhere, at any time can trust in Jesus for the salvation of their souls, the forgiveness of their sins, and the adoption into the family of God which guarantees them a relationship with their Savior forever.
So, is God really in control? You’d better believe it.
Source: The Cripplegate