Qué Será Será
To some extent I believe most of us exhibit a certain ambivalence or confusion about God’s sovereignty, His ability and plan to bring about His purpose in the world and within human history. On the one hand, many hold a belief that God’s hand controls so called acts of God- floods, hurricanes, droughts, and famines- and maybe utilizes these to get mankind’s attention and to punish evil doers. Sometimes this belief is overtly stated and at other times it is subconsciously held. As a corollary to this belief, some conclude that men do not need to concern themselves with environmental or sustainability issues because God is ultimately in control of these aspects of the physical world, so man’s intervention is unnecessary and perhaps even impious.
This resignation or acquiescence, which is somewhat universal, expresses itself in various languages: “Qué será será” in Italian, “as the fates allow” or “God willing” in English, and “Inshallah” in Arabic. The underlying idea in each case is that at least certain aspects of life and human history are in the hands of outside forces, divine or otherwise, and that human effort to alter the prescribed course of events is a wasted effort. Of course such resignation can be a source of paralysis if carried to an extreme. Merely allowing the world to pass us by as we accept whatever happens as inevitable, would preclude most forms of progress and technological advancement in our societies. Ever striving for improvement, in a real sense, seems to be what life is all about, attempting to promote that which is good and right as best we can define such. Certainly the very American concepts of self reliance, individualism, and personal responsibility fly in the face of such resignation to the status quo. Yet paradoxically, as I pointed out above, many who profess these American virtues also embrace the idea of divine control over the environment and its resources, disallowing any human responsibility for their preservation. These sentiments are expressed often in opposition to governmental regulations which attempt to control the use and maintenance of natural resources.
In contradistinction to this attitude about who controls nature and the physical world, many of these same people, who reject the need for human concern about environmental sustainability, many are differently minded on the subject of who or what controls the spiritual aspects of our world. Various factors are considered as interacting with no clear picture of how it all works. Of course, spiritual issues are dealt with by our religion and its theology. For traditional Christians, the forces at play in the world of the spirit include, God’s will as expressed in His plan and purpose, man’s will and nature, Satan and his opposing influence, and the functioning of the church, which obviously implies the necessary participation of men in facilitating the progression of human history.
The underlying question for believers is this: what really determines the course of human history in its spiritual significance. If all the above factors are involved, how is their relative importance combined to define each and every event in our collective lives? The answer to that question must include the effects of the natural history events, the seemingly random circumstances of individual lives, which obviously also impact the unfolding of human history, individually and collectively. Additionally, we must consider the issue of why God would control the natural realm so absolutely without man’s involvement but then abdicate that sovereign role in connection with the spiritual realm. This question is especially significant if one considers the physical realm as transient and the spiritual to be eternal.
As I have noted previously, a seeming inconsistency in our beliefs is not a bad thing. But it is a reason to ponder that inconsistency and use it as an impetus to possible growth and needed change. My own current explanation for how human history flows involves three currents: God’s ultimate plan and purpose which is paramount, man’s will which can work with or against God’s will, and a measure of randomness which is governed primarily by the laws of physics (nature if you wish) which determine where and when floods occur and who gets sick or dies prematurely. As I consider the inequities of these random influences, I conclude that within God’s plan there must be an equalizer which accounts for these random factors in individual lives and their final outcomes, whatever that might be. In this sense, I perceive a God who ultimately controls all aspects of life sovereignly but does so in a more subtle fashion than we can understand or even imagine. I would not dismiss the idea that God’s subtlety includes a gentle nudging of humanity which eventually aligns our will with His.