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The Will of God According to Wall Drug

Anyone traveling through the upper midwest surely knows of a certain drugstore in Wall, SD.  After all, it’s next to impossible to miss the billboards.  I happened to be in the area and thought it would be fun to visit what has to be one of the all-time great tourist spots.  The Wall Drug facility is immense and thankfully there are store maps conveniently located at each entrance.   There’s a short summary of Wall Drug’s history in the brochure that includes the following statements:

  • Our families agreed that we should all pray about the decision (for Ted & Dorothy Hustead to buy a small drug store in Wall, SD in 1931).  
  • We asked God’s guidance. 
  •  In the end everyone felt that it was God’s will for us to go to Wall.  
  • But now that Dorothy and I were all alone here (in Wall, SD), we wondered if we’d heard God right.

Did God have a plan for this young pharmacist related to a location in Wall, SD?  Was it God’s will for Wall Drug to prosper during the middle 1930s when so many people and businesses were struggling through the Great Depression?  If so, then is it reasonable to believe that God picks and chooses which businesses will thrive and which ones will fail?  If that is so, is it reasonable for one to believe that it is God’s will for many people to suffer financially because God has decreed this current recession?  

I personally don’t think so as I don’t believe God is in the business of picking and choosing winners and losers – for eternal salvation, a business adventure, one’s health, or any number of other things.  Could it be that it frustrates (or even angers) God when, as per the Wall Drug founders, people act out their faith based on “feelings” and then when circumstances change or situations become difficult, people question their faith?

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  1. charles
    November 10, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    First, let me compliment your Jan 15, 2009 post: “The Will of God in 28 Easy Steps.” The moral will of God is revealed pretty clearly in scripture. I agree completely (and often recommend books such as Garry Friesen’s “Decision Making and the Will of God” and Bruce Waltke’s “Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion.”)

    The notion that if you read the circumstances and subtle impressions correctly, God is trying to give you a big pile of stuff – or perfect relationships or whatever easy road is at the center of God’s supposed “perfect will for your life” – is completely unbiblical.

    But then you go on and ask, “If so, then is it reasonable to believe that God picks and chooses which businesses will thrive and which ones will fail?”

    Is God not clear in the OT that He picks and chooses which kings and nations will thrive and which will fail? He has a sovereign “will” (or plan or “decree”) for human history which will not fail.

    Dan4:35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.
    He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth.
    No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

    Isa46:10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.
    I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’

    Psa33:10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
    11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

    Psa135:6 The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.

    “If that is so, is it reasonable for one to believe that it is God’s will for many people to suffer financially because God has decreed this current recession?”

    He gives and takes away. I know open theists hate the book of Job but it’s still in the bible.

    Prov16:4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends— even the wicked for a day of disaster.
    alt: The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil. (NASB)

    Isa45:7 I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.

    Amos3:6 When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble?
    When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?

    Lam3:38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?

    “I personally don’t think so as I don’t believe God is in the business of picking and choosing winners and losers – for eternal salvation…”

    Because eternal salvation is much safer if left in your (much wiser?) hands? If you affirm the doctrine of total depravity, that is a very strange thing to say.

    Rom3:9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10As it is written:
    “There is no one righteous, not even one;
    11there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
    12All have turned away, they have together become worthless;
    there is no one who does good, not even one.”

    Left to ourselves, none of us would choose salvation. And none of us deserves to be chosen for it. We all deserve judgment…but fortunately, God chose to save some.

    1Cor1:26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus

    1Cor4:7For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

  2. Bob
    November 10, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Charles,
    I appreciate your comment. Thank-you. So far as I have been able to determine (based on my own limited empirical evidence), it is the rare Calvinist who will recommend Garry Friesen’s book “Decision Making and the Will of God”. Most Calvinists I know seem to claim that God has a “will” for them and that as the “scroll” unwinds, it is up to the believer to figure out what to make of all the circumstances, Bible verses the Lord may give them at some point, etc. If what Friesen teaches in his book is true, then (I think) it stands to reason that a person’s talents, abilities, applied wisdom, etc have more to do with regard to a business succeeding or failing than “God’s will”. I don’t doubt that God can bring about a business’ failure – or success. I just don’t see it taught in scripture that God works in such a way. Maybe He does and I’m blind to it. Hence, my questions. I agree that God has chosen certain peoples (or nations) at certain times for His own reasons – the nation of Israel, Paul, the disciples, the apostles, etc. And I don’t doubt for a second that God’s sovereign plan for human history will culminate with Jesus’ second coming. I guess my fundamental question is – does God pick and choose everything else in between – who’s saved, where you’re born, what talents you’re born with, one’s longevity, health & wealth (or lack thereof), etc? As I noted on your other comment, I’m working on other replies but promise to get to this one as soon as I can.

    Best regards,

    Bob

  3. charles
    November 23, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    “Most Calvinists I know seem to claim that God has a “will” for them and that as the “scroll” unwinds, it is up to the believer to figure out what to make of (it) all…”

    ouch. those immature calvinists are probably who the pyromaniacs were addressing here:

    http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2009/10/heres-your-problem-you-really-really.html

    God has a moral “will” for us – revealed in the bible. God also has a sovereign “will” for our lives – it will certainly be accomplished…but we aren’t generally invited to look at our futures.

    “I guess my fundamental question is – does God pick and choose everything else in between – who’s saved, where you’re born, what talents you’re born with, one’s longevity, health & wealth (or lack thereof), etc?”

    i’ll repeat 1cor4:7 until you give me an answer: “what do you have that you did not receive?” ;)

    some other verses for consideration:

    job14:5 Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.

    matt10:29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

    jam4:13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

    dan5:23 …You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.

    Prov16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

    again, it goes back to job: God gives and takes away. does He have the right to do that?

    psa65:4 Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts!
    We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.

    BTW, don’t be in a hurry. i understand being busy with other things…

  4. March 10, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Prodigal,Sorry for not responding over here sooenr. On this point that you clarify further, the answer is easy. He doesn’t know who the elect are. Satan’s not omniscient. But the elect are encouraged by God’s promise, The Lord knows those who are his (2 Tim. 2:19). God knows, but Satan doesn’t. So he accuses, he tempts and he deceives.Your first question is a little harder. We have to be careful of a couple things when considering it. 1) we can’t speak more directly about the matter than God reveals in His Word. God doesn’t share everything to us, some things are indeed mysterious to us His creatures. 2) we can’t judge God based on our own ideas of what we think fairness is and what we think God should have done. God is the one making the rules.Now, in God’s word, we see that everyone is without excuse for their sin. But we don’t see that everyone has equal opportunity or chance to get saved. This is very apparent from the warnings given to Capernaum and the other cities Jesus ministered in during his time on earth. Jesus chides them because if the miracles that were done in their midst had been done for Sodom and Gomorrah, these later cities would have repented. Since Capernaum hasn’t repented yet, they are held responsible for sinning against greater revelation. They will have a worse condemnation than Sodom.What is striking in that story is that God knew what it would take to make Sodom and Gomorrah repent, but God did not supply those miracles. Worse, God knew he would be giving his pearls to swine in doing so many miracles for Capernaum, yet He did that anyway. I suspect something bigger than doing whatever He could to rescue these people is in view. God has a bigger plan than just Capernaum or Sodom. God is revealing His glory to the world and the depth of His glorious character. God is also effecting a marvelous redemption plan that will win a host of people to His name and for His fame.We read statements that God saved the Israelites, not because they were a better people than others, but to honor His promises and to display His glory among the heathen. God told Pharaoh that He had raised him up for the purpose of displaying God’s power.Romans 9 is very relevant to this discussion as God says that He has the prerogative to give mercy to whomever He wants and to harden whomever He wants. 1 Pet. 2 speaks of those destined to stumble (vs. 8] and those chosen to proclaim God’s excellencies (vs. 9-10). Jesus spoke of those who disobey and disbelieve because they are not Jesus’ sheep and not of him . 2 Tim. 2:24-26 views the lost as bound by Satan and held captive by Him. The creative act of God to bring light to a chaotic world is compared to the act of God whereby he brings the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ to the minds of the lost (2 Cor. 4:4-6).There are vessels of honor and dishonor, fitted for glory or destruction. And we have no right to tell the Potter how and for what purpose He should have done this.I try to grapple with some of this, explaining how God’s many glorious attributes would not be fully revealed in a world without rebellion and sinners , and I share a relevant post from R.C. Sproul’s work .These aren’t easy questions, but they remain to be grappled with by all Christians no matter what their position in this matter to. If God gave a libertarian free will to so many, surely He would have known the wholly disastrous and detestable consequences. If he foreknew who would believe, and how many they would be, doesn’t he then have some responsibility for letting the whole matter pan out despite His knowledge of millions perishing in hell?

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