@KFriske, thanks for starting a great thread! I appreciate the responses you have already received. Here are a few more thoughts, similar to the ones earlier but with a different angle, that may be helpful in your conversation.
There are many verses in the Bible that suggest that God is very much involved consciously with people in this world. Prayer is based on this very hope.
Ps 18:25-27 25 With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; 26 With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. 27 For You will save the humble people, But will bring down haughty looks.
A testimony of how God can orchestrate things in our life
I am not sure how God’s sovereign purposes work through the free-will of man. He somehow does seem to orchestrate things in our life, without which fulfillment of biblical prophecy is moot. I can share a story from my husband’s life when he first came to faith in Christ. He was a brand-new Christian and was relocating to another state. He packed up his car with all that he needed to move and started driving on the interstate. Suddenly in the middle of no-where, his car engine broke down and started to fume! Instead of panic or frustration, he felt incredible peace. Immediately, an employee of the same institution where he worked drove by, recognized him and stopped, and offered to move him as this person was heading in the same direction. This experience played a big role in confirming that the Holy Spirit was watching over him and guiding him as a new believer. The fact that he felt a sense of peace before the help arrived was what led to his conviction of God’s hand in the process. In my own life too, I have had instances where I knew God was averting me from unwise decisions by sending similar messages from different people even when they had no knowledge of my specific situation. So, somehow God consciously speaks to people and lets them fulfill His purposes.
Phil 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Proverbs 16:9 9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.
Does man even know what is good and evil?
While it is fair to ask if God is responsible for both the good and evil, what we tend to forget is our basis for judging what is evil. Only God knows what is truly good for man and we sometimes mistake his goodness for evil with our limited perspective. For instance: Death of a righteous person in God’s timing can actually be good if it ushers in eternal life. Also, death entering the world because of sin can actually be considered a blessing, so we don’t go on to live eternally in sin.
Is 57:1-2 : The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers That the righteous is taken away from evil. 2 He shall enter into peace; They shall rest in their beds, Each one walking in his uprightness.
We don’t always know God’s reasons for judgment (Hosea 10:12-14, Hosea 4:6) and His ways of disciplining us and perfecting our character to accomplish His calling for our lives (Rom 5:3). We as humans tend to see it as evil. However, almost every story of a chosen servant of God in the Bible has both God’s favor and trials – Noah, Moses, Joseph, David, Mary etc.
If God is the one responsible for evil then whom does He promise to protect us from?
Anytime we see evil, for lack of knowledge we as humans are quick to blame God. What I find unique about Christianity is it identifies the real culprit behind all evil, promises strength to fight all evil by demonstrating it on the Cross and also promises an eternity with no evil. We should not be surprised if the darts of the evil one hit us if we are not taking cover in God’s shelter.
Ps 18:30 As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
So, to answer your question, yes God is involved consciously in our lives bringing about good that sometimes can be perceived as evil. Believers have the favor of the Lord as they walk in obedience (Is 66:2, Ps 5:12) and are disciplined when they are not (Heb12:6). We suffer in this world as we live in a fallen world under the influence of the evil one, from which only God can rescue us.
God bless you as well!