If we expect God to act a certain way and he doesn’t, we can quickly get discouraged and blame him. However, the actual culprit might be our map. Everyone has a “map” or understanding of how life works. Our map helps us make sense of the world and gives us a feeling of coherence and stability. We assume the earth has rotated away from the sun when it gets dark. When an apple falls off a tree, we conclude that gravity is in play. A fever is a sign we have an infection. Quaker writer Parker Palmer comments, “The way we know becomes the way we live. “
The Blueprint Model assumes that God has a specific plan for every person, event, or circumstance in all of history, controlling the world down to the level of atoms. This is Specific Sovereignty. Accordingly, disaster, crime, cancer, rape, tornados, genocide, adultery, murder, war, poverty, suffering, etc., are part of God’s specific, pre-planned will to bring him glory ultimately.
The Canvas Model assumes that you can’t have genuine love without free will. Like the Blueprint Model, God is sovereign, and his will is wholly and ultimately realized. However, he does this by allowing his creation to make authentic choices. This is known as General Sovereignty, which acknowledges that most of the pain and suffering we experience individually, universally, and even environmentally is the consequence of our choices. God elects to work redemptively with the fall-out from our choices to bring about his ultimate purposes.
How do you feel about God when bad things happen to you? And in those times, what is your sense about how God feels about you?