all the time
"God is never the cause of that which is not good. [His] sovereignty does not mean that God is the cause of everything that happens in His world. [His] sovereignty means that nothing happens in God's world which isn't a part of His plan. That nothing happens in God's world that catches Him by surprise. That nothing happens in God's world that isn't somehow connected to what He desires, what He wants to have happen in His world, but we must distinguish between that which God causes and that which God allows.
God is never the cause of that which is not good. If God is the cause of that which is not good then God is like every other God. He doesn't exist. If He is both good and evil, then He is not the God who's revealed in Christian Scriptures. He is not the God who is revealed in Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures --- and the Psalmist makes that point explicitly, I think, when he tells us, "Before I was afflicted, I went astray but now I obey your word, you are good and what you do is good."
God is good. All the time. And everything He does is good. He is never the cause of that which is not good, and that becomes one of the greatest challenges for us. It is the challenge of the problem of evil. How could it be and why is it that God is good, all knowing, all powerful and yet allows horrific evil in His world? And that's a question that believers, long before they were Christians -- that's been a question that believers in God have wrestled with throughout human history...Off the table is the position that God is the doer of that which is evil. That God is the doer of that which is not good. If God is the doer of which is not good, then God is evil. Then if God is evil, then I'm looking for a new God. If God is evil, then He is not the God who is revealed in Scriptures as a God who is good. Off the table is also–– the way to deal with that is also off the table ––is to say that evil doesn't exist. That's been tried too. Off the table is the view that God is not sovereign and evil catches God by surprise and God doesn't have comprehensive knowledge, that's off the table too. What we must affirm, two things that are always held in tension–– that in a fallen world, there is horrific evil. And two, that God is good. He is not the cause of that which is evil.
So what does the psalmist mean when he says, "Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I obey your word." What does it mean when he says in verse 71, "It was good for me to be afflicted. So that I might obey, so that I might learn your decrees." "That it was good for me to be afflicted" does not mean that the affliction is good. That in a world which is dominated by evil, in a world in which everybody dies, in a world in which horrific evil, unspeakable evil exists. And in a world where human beings who are depraved consistently, constantly, regularly rebel against God and that which is good. God uses the consequences of those decisions, and God even uses pain and suffering inflicted upon us by the evil one, to teach us, to conform us, to make us more like His Son. And one of the most difficult sayings in Scripture–– because it gets to the very heart of Christology and it gets to the heart of how to live in a fallen world––the writer of Hebrew says, "Even though He was a son, He learned obedience through His suffering. There's something about the creature and apparently, there's something about the Creator becoming a creature, while still remaining the Creator, the greatest mystery of all––that makes me uncomfortable saying, necessary, but that's kind of what the writer of Hebrews is saying, I think.
It's necessary for us to learn to obey through experiences that are consequences of disobedience. We learn to obey as we're tested. as we're tried, as we experience life in a fallen world.
The good news of the gospel is that evil does not take yet the last word. The good news of the gospel is that God takes what is designed and intended for evil and uses it for good. The good news of the Gospel is that the adversary does not win in the end. The good news of the gospel is that what he intends for evil, Joseph told his brothers, God uses for good.
But that God uses pain and suffering and affliction for good does in no way make the pain and suffering and affliction good.
It makes God good, and it makes the gospel good. And getting that right is in my opinion, absolutely essential. Particularly in a world where there is a great deal, and in the Christian community where there is a great deal of teaching to the contrary. And it doesn't take a whole lot of time on Google to find that teaching out there. God is good. All the time. All the time."
- Glenn R. Kreider