When our friend, having suffered the untimely death of her young son, says “I trust that God is in control,” we think she is right. We don’t think she means that the tragic event was meant to be. We don’t think she means that it was willed by God or that it is part of a divine plan that only God understands. We don’t think she means that the event was somehow known by God in advance, even before the universe was created. To the contrary we think God weeps with her, wishing it had not happened.
But we do think she means that, appearances to the contrary, there is a divine and steadfast love that is greater than any tragedy that she or anyone else undergo. A love that does not cause tragedies but redeems them, and that is always at work even without our asking. This loves comes to us from God’s own heart, unbidden and sometimes quite undeserved. A love that is unilateral. In this sense, yes, God is in control.