I’m not sure what Scriptures the author had in mind when he made these claims. I think you’d probably be able to substantiate some of them, but others such as, “it is not wrath”, “it is wise”, or, “it is loving” may be a little trickier. In other words, the accuracy of these statements could vary depending on which kinds of suffering are in view. But since there is no distinction made as to what kind is being referenced, I’ll just address the topic generally:

 

It is true that God works all things—that would include suffering—together for good (Rom 8:28), and it’s also true that God works all things—-that would include suffering as well—after the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11). If this is what is meant by His being, “sovereign over suffering” then this claim can be confirmed. However, here are some other truths concerning the subject:

 

Observation 1.

Proverbs contain multiple warnings against foolishness, along with consequences for not heeding those warnings. These consequences typically involve some form of suffering. (1:23-33 as an example)

 

Observation 2.

With the exception of persecution (2Tim 3:12), the vast majority of biblical accounts of suffering—-when reasons are mentioned—-are due to disobedience, unbelief, or foolish decision-making. Examples we could start with are Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of stew (Heb 12:16-17). Then move to a much grander scale as seen in the children of Israel dying by the hundreds of thousands in the wilderness after complaining (Num 14:28-30). Israel going into captivity multiple times for sins such as idolatry (see the Prophets in the OT). Herod being eaten by worms because he did not give God glory (Acts 12:21-23). Ananias and Sapphira dropping dead for lying (Acts 5:1-10). And, of course, the judgments we see in Revelation.

 

As mentioned, this isn’t always the case, as demonstrated by Job, or the man in the gospels who was born blind—-but it is usually the case. The observer can interpret such a vast disparity any way they choose.

 

Observation 3.

The Bible tells us in Romans 12 to abhor that which is evil. In 1 Thessalonians 5:22 it says to abstain from every form of it. How do these passages relate to the topic at hand? Well, the term, “evil” used, here, is the Greek word, “poneros” and it implies things such as annoyances, hardships, sickness, that which is hurtful, disease, and calamity. In other words, all things that we would typically categorize under the heading of, “suffering.”

 

Conclusion:

Yes, we can say God is sovereign over suffering. But we can also say He instructs us to abhor it, abstain from every form of it, how to avoid much of it, and provides a biblical record for what usually causes it.

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Separating the Emotion from the Analysis