Once we have acknowledged and become thankful worshipers of God for every good thing we experience, we are ready to ask the question of whether God ordains trouble in our lives or not. There are only three possible answers to this question.
First, we might say, as Open Theists do, that God cannot foresee the future, and therefore any trouble that comes into our lives is as much a surprise to God as it is to us. In this scenario God is not responsible for our troubles, but neither can he help much beyond sympathize with us. Hardly a biblical or satisfying picture.
Second, we might say that Satan is responsible for our troubles. The devil is an easy target, after all. We are allowed to hate him and everything he does. In this view, God would never wish evil or trouble upon his children, so it must be the devil’s fault. God’s role in the whole mess is to stop the devil from going too far. In other words, God allows troubles, but he does not ordain or initiate them. So God is able to wiggle out of responsibility merely from the fact that he is not the direct cause of trouble.
I dare say that most Christians probably hold this position. It preserves enough of God’s control over my life that I don’t feel too out of control, but also provides a scapegoat so I don’t have to be mad at God when trouble comes. But as everyone who holds this position knows, if the trial or suffering is severe enough, God ultimately gets the blame anyway.
If these aren’t really legitimate answer to the question of whether God is responsible for the trouble in our lives, what’s left? In Part 3 we’ll examine what I believe to be the biblical answer and the only satisfying one.