The Blessings and Cursings of God
Most people believe God is solely a blessing-giver, that he only intends or creates what is good. But the Bible describes God many times as both one who creates or intends blessings and curses.
- Gen. 50:15-20
- Deut. 30:11-20
- Job 1:20-22, 2:9-10
- Rom. 5:12-14, 11:32
That presents most people with a huge problem: “Why believe in a god, usually described as ‘loving’, who also curses people, who would bring trouble on people, who would allow, even intend evil in the world?”
But what you must stake your faith on if you are to believe in God as he describes himself through Scripture and not some god of your own making, is not simply a God who only gives good while some other power outside his control brings evil, but that in God’s intending and bringing to pass both blessing and cursing, that his promise to work all things together for the good of those who love him is true (Rom. 8:28). Blessing is a tool in his hand to work for the good of his people. Cursing is a tool in his hand to work for the good of his people. Sin, famine, tsunami, holocaust, cancer, even Satan himself, the father of lies, is a tool for God to work for the good of those who love him.
As humans, it is almost impossible for us to accept that idea rationally. It doesn’t make sense. Why would God use evil for his purposes? Why not just use good? It comes to mind that this is why the writer of Hebrews gives two very specific, almost seemingly disjointed qualifications for relationship with God through faith:
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6, ESV)
Faith is a) belief in his existence (Hebrews 11:1: “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”) and b) belief that he rewards (i.e. works for the good) of those who seek him. If we do not believe God works through all things for our good, we are not exhibiting a faith pleasing to him. Remember, this verse comes in the middle of a list of people who did exhibit this kind of faith (a list of very imperfect people it might be noted). And the description of this group in the end is this:
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13-16, ESV)
They did not receive what they had been promised in life, that God would reward their seeking him even through persecution and death. But they believed that God was faithful and true and would do so, even if it came through death itself.
“All things”, as Piper points out, includes sins of others against us, our own sin, the decay and death of the world around us. The cursings and blessings of God are his working together for the good of his people. Lest we forget, redemption itself was won through the greatest act of evil in the history of the world: The killing of God’s own Son, Jesus. Without the intention of God behind it – God bringing together “the fullness of time” to display his greatest love, his kindest mercy, his fullest grace, through the most depraved act the universe – you do not have good news, you have perhaps moral admirability and great tragedy, but not a God who is mighty to save.
This is part of why faith is required, belief in God’s sovereignty in bringing all things to pass for your good is a hard thing when it hurts. And over and over again, God demonstrates through the grand story of his people Israel (and more generally, the world at large), that he uses pain, suffering, even curses, for good, restoration and even more importantly, to highlight who he is.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places (Habakkuk 3:17-19, ESV).
Do you rejoice in the Lord when cursing seemingly resides over your life? Do you take joy in the promise of salvation even when everything is going wrong? Friends, whatever you believe, you must believe with your life (including the possible loss of your life or of those you love) that God works all things together for the good of those who love him and are chosen for his purposes. I will be the first to admit I struggle with this often. I do not often suffer well or with joy. So pray, with me and for me, that our faith be made greater in him who’s arm is not short to bring about his salvation and that our joy and assurance at his promises may grow greater each day.