Does God Work in “Crooked” Ways?
“DEUS ESCREVE CERTO POR LINHAS TORTAS” (“GOD WRITES correctly using crooked lines”) is a saying in Brazil. It suggests that God always does the right thing but sometimes in a way that seems crooked to man. For instance, when someone in the prime of life dies, many say, ‘God called him to heaven.’ If someone suffers from a physical disability or faces a tragedy, some remark, ‘It is God’s will.’ Since death, physical problems, and other causes of sorrow are thus blamed on God, such expressions imply that God ‘writes crookedly,’ that he does things in a way that man cannot understand.
Why is it that many religious people believe that God is responsible for death and hardships? These beliefs are often based on the misunderstanding of some isolated Bible texts. Let us briefly look at a few of them.
● “Who appoints the speechless or the deaf or the clear-sighted or the blind? Is it not I, Jehovah?”—Exodus 4:11.
Does this mean that God is to blame for all of those who suffer from various disabilities? No. This would be out of harmony with God’s personality. The Bible tells us: “Every creation of God is fine.” (1 Timothy 4:4) He is not to blame if someone is born blind, speechless, or deaf. He wants only what is good for his creation, for he is the Source of “every good gift and every perfect present.”—James 1:17.
It was our first parents, Adam and Eve, who by their own choice rebelled against God and lost their perfection and therefore their ability to produce perfect children. (Genesis 3:1-6, 16, 19; Job 14:4) As their descendants married and had children, more and more imperfections, including physical defects, began to be manifest among humans. While Jehovah God did not cause this, he has allowed it to happen. Hence, he could speak of himself as ‘appointing’ the speechless, the deaf, and the blind.
● “That which is made crooked cannot be made straight.”—Ecclesiastes 1:15.
Was it God who made things crooked? Obviously not. Ecclesiastes 7:29 notes: “God made mankind upright, but they themselves have sought out many plans.” The Contemporary English Version paraphrases this verse: “We were completely honest when God created us, but now we have twisted minds.” Instead of abiding by God’s righteous standards, men and women have, for the most part, willfully chosen to follow their own plans, schemes, devices, or ways—to their injury.—1 Timothy 2:14.
Also, as noted by the apostle Paul, because of mankind’s sin, “the creation was subjected to futility.” (Romans 8:20) And this situation “cannot be made straight” by human efforts. Only by divine intervention will all the crookedness and futility in earthly affairs be removed.
● “See the work of the true God, for who is able to make straight what he has made crooked?”—Ecclesiastes 7:13.
In other words, King Solomon asks: ‘Who among mankind can straighten out the defects and imperfections that God allows?’ No one, for there is a reason why Jehovah God permits these things to happen.
Therefore, Solomon recommends: “On a good day prove yourself to be in goodness, and on a calamitous day see that the true God has made even this exactly as that, to the intent that mankind may not discover anything at all after them.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14) A person should appreciate a day when things go well and show his appreciation by reflecting goodness. He should view a good day as a gift from God. But what if the day brings calamity? A person does well to “see,” that is, to recognize, that God has allowed the calamity to take place. Why has he done so? Solomon says: “To the intent that mankind may not discover anything at all after them.” What does this mean?
The fact that God permits us to face both joys and troubles reminds us that we cannot tell what the future will bring. Calamity can befall both the righteous and the wicked. There are no exceptions. This should make us realize the importance of depending, not on ourselves, but on God, remembering that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) While we may not understand certain things now, we can rest assured that after everything has run its full course, what God has permitted will have served a beneficial purpose for all concerned.
Whatever he permits will never result in everlasting harm to righthearted ones. The apostle Peter made this clear when commenting on the suffering coming upon fellow believers in his time: “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all undeserved kindness, who called you to his everlasting glory in union with Christ, will himself finish your training, he will make you firm, he will make you strong.”—1 Peter 5:10.
Time to Set Things Straight
Jehovah gives us strength to endure our present trials. He also promises to make “all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) Yes, it is his purpose that his heavenly Kingdom will soon restore health to those suffering from disabilities and will oversee the resurrection of the dead. That government will also eliminate the one whose ways are indeed crooked—Satan the Devil. (John 5:28, 29; Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 15:26; 2 Peter 3:13) What a blessing it will be for God-fearing people all over the earth when God’s time to set things straight arrives!
[Picture Credit Line on page 28]
Job Hearing of His Ruin/The Doré Bible Illustrations/Dover Publications