Dr. Story shares his thoughts on a popular phrase spoken in times of trial

I frequently hear the expression, “God is in control” when suffering of any kind occurs, especially expressed during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  These words become one more expression of religious jargon that is glibly offered in response to various tragedies.

For the speaker, this quick expression often implies that God authors or is the cause of particular tragedies, whether external—a pandemic, hurricane, flooding, or personal—premature loss of a loved one, sexual infidelity within a marriage, or cancer.  We live in a broken world, going back to the Fall narrative, and we are also fallen people.  These are the frank realities of our present existence as we joyfully anticipate the wonderful consummation when both nature and our own existence will be fully redeemed and transformed.

Let me suggest what may better express our posture with respect to God’s caring involvement in suffering, “God can and does work in redemptive ways in the midst of suffering and tragedy.”  This takes us away from quick and superficial responses to people who experience pain in different ways, shapes, and forms.

Two related Greek verbs, ἐπισκέπτομαι, ἐπισκοπέω, are used to express “God’s visitation in a caring and gracious manner,” e.g. “God has visited his people” (i.e. with care and grace); these verbs are also cognate with the nouns, “visitation” (ἐπισκοπή) and “overseer” (ἐπίσκοπος), often translated as “bishop.”  Taken together, the word family expresses God’s feeling involvement in the midst of human need and tragedies.  God enters the human experience with care and grace.

-Dr. Story, Co-Creator of Greek To Me

TAGS: Greek To Me, J. Lyle Story, Koine Greek, Nationalism, New Testament, Original New Testament, Word Study