“I think God was somewhere else when the typhoon hit.” This was the statement of a mayor in Mindanao after seeing the extent of the devastation of super typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban.
“God is sovereign” has become a cliché purposely used to numb the pains. At times, this is counterproductive because it deprives believers of spiritual maturity that results from grappling with life issues.
The word sovereignty is nowhere to be found in the whole Bible. But the essence of its truth is obvious. It may be hard to understand but reason and experience validate it.
Sovereignty refers to God’s special attribute. It talks about His rule, dominion, and ultimate control of all things. His purposes surely will happen according to His plan. In the failures of man, God ensures that at the end His ultimate purpose prevails.
However, our hurts, disappointments, and ordeals in life seem to blur this truth about God. It would be easier to accept difficulties that result from our wrong decisions but if they are induced by others or by natural calamities, we question God’s sovereignty and even doubt His Presence.
Grappling with our own realities and the sovereignty of God could pose seeming inconsistencies. If God is good and in control, why did He allow sexual abuses that destroy a person’s future? How can a loving God allow calamities to kill thousands of people and produce so great a number of orphans in so short a time?
We can’t reject the truth that God is sovereign but we can’t also ignore the realities that happen year after year in the Philippines. This is the kind of paradox that we must come to terms to make sense of the Bible and our experiences.
Let’s look at some Biblical references that talk about God’s sovereignty:
- Absolutely nothing happens in the universe that is outside of God’s knowledge, permission, influence, and authority. God works not just in some things but in all things according to the counsel of His own will. (Romans 8:28,29, Ephesians 1:11, Romans 11:33, Isaiah 46:11)
- God may allow “twists” such as painful experiences and disobedience but God’s highest will and ultimate purpose triumphs at the end. (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20)
- As sovereign One, it is not only that God has the power and right to govern all things, but it is His nature to exercise His sovereignty over all. One argues that God is not merely sovereign de jure (in principle), but sovereign de facto (in practice).
- In the whole Bible and in the experiences of post New Testament Churches, we see threads of human wickedness and the triumph of God’s ultimate purpose.
A good illustration is Joseph, thrown by his brothers to an empty well, later sold to Egyptian traders, jailed for a crime he never committed, and later became Egypt’s prime minister. After his father’s burial, all his brothers were so scared for the ills they made against him but with tears in his eyes, Joseph said with conviction on God’s sovereignty over his life, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” His grid on the sovereignty of God is so clear that he was never bitter.
In the NT, we see God’s sovereignty over the lives of His people. How would you take Judas’ betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver? Though it was his choice, it was also a fulfilment of a prophesy. How would you account for the persecution and death of many saints in the post NT churches? One concludes that every single death is a seed of the church.
How about the pains and struggles that all people face? How about the abuses done to the innocent? How about the calamities that leave many orphans? How are we going to wear the sets of eyeglasses properly?
- See our experiences in the light of eternity. As pilgrims in this world, our hearts are fixed in our future glory. Our difficulty here is nothing compared to the joy of life with Jesus in heaven forever.
- View our pains in the context of God’s higher purpose. God has called us to be like Christ and this entails pruning. Those who have been into suffering testify that there is no better discipling context to transform us.
- Look at every negative situation as an opportunity to advance the kingdom of God. Paul said that the Gospel has to be preached in season or out of season. In all calamities, everybody is a loser except the kingdom of God. Calamities provide countless opportunities to love and display kingdom values.
- Remember that Christ is central and supreme. Let us glorify Him in all our circumstances.
In conclusion, allow me to quote John Piper, “God’s sovereignty ordains things to pass that from the human standpoint are willed as evil, and from God’s standpoint willed as absolutely good for His final purposes.”
The life of Joseph and the sovereignty of God in his life. Joseph had a dream. He was to become a prime minister, but the purpose was not fully revealed at that time.On the process of becoming one: Out of jealousy, his brothers threw him down the pit, and later, they took him out and sold as slave. He was imprisoned for a sin he never committed. But at the end of the story, he says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about so that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 37-50:21)
In today’s world we are more preoccupied with solving our problems than finding God. We’ve got things backward. Instead of using God to solve our problems, we need to use our problems to find God.
Why is it easier to obey God than to trust Him? Adversity is hard to endure and can even be harder to understand. If God were really in control, why would He allow the tragic loss and pains for wrongs we have not committed? In an effort to strengthen his own trust in God during a time of adversity, Dr. Jerry Bridges explores the Scriptures on God’s sovereignty. i hope that as you immerse yourselves in this truth about God, you may learn to trust God and love Him as you rest in His bosom.