Only the bravest people dare to venture outside in the middle of a Texas summer day, the rest of us are either in an air-conditioned building or near water. My kids love to swim, and being inside all day supplies young children abundant energy that needs to be burned if there’s to be any hope of a decent bedtime. So, we spend many hot summer days at the pool.
After one evening of swimming, our kids were getting out of the water and drying off. I took the life vest off my three-year-old son and told him to go get a towel. I continued doing all the many tasks that need to be done in order to get four wet children to the van. As I was drying another child, I happened to see my son getting back in the water. I knew he didn’t have his life vest on and couldn’t swim without it. In the brief moment between watching him go under and jumping in the pool after him, I saw him completely submerged in the water unable to come up for air. I could sense his panic, but there was no loud splashing, gasping for air, or any noise we often associate with someone who’s drowning. It was silent, and had I not seen him go in, I might not have known.
That’s a terrifying thought.
It reminded me that there are many details of my life that are beyond my control. It’s easy to forget, isn’t it? It’s easy to tell ourselves that we are in the driver seat. Having a sense of control gives me comfort and eliminates fear, but the truth is I can’t guarantee anything. I do my absolute best to watch my kids at the pool, but the worst can happen quickly. I strive to drive carefully and obey all traffic laws, but that doesn’t always prevent accidents. Hard work and loyalty at work go a long way, but some company layoffs can’t be prevented. Even with my best efforts, certain outcomes are simply beyond my control. Being reminded of this reality can tempt me to live in fear by avoiding situations in which I feel out of control. However, living in fear is antithetical to a life of faith.
So, how can believers face this lack of control without giving in to paralyzing fear?
The Sovereignty of God
While going through this uncertain life, the sovereignty of God is one of the most comforting truths for the believer. When fear and doubt leave my soul cold and shivering, being reminded of God’s sovereignty is a steaming cup of soup and a warm blanket.
Scripture teaches us that nothing is outside God’s control. Consider these verses:
- Psalm 115:3- “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”
- Proverbs 16:9- “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
- 2 Chronicles 20:6- “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.”
- Jeremiah 32:27- “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”
- Psalm 24:1-2- “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.”
- Psalm 29:10- “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever.”
To say God is sovereign is to say that no one is more powerful, that he does as he pleases, and none can stay his hand or overrule him.
Why Is This Good News?
Some may wonder why this is such good news. Let me point you to two passages:
- Job 42:2, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of your can be thwarted.”
- Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
God is in control and he is working all things for my good. Whatever comes my way, whether success or failure, victory or defeat, celebration or mourning, all have passed through the hands of my father who loves me. Everything in my life is being used by God to sanctify me and bring me closer to himself. Here’s the good news, according to Job 42:2 his plan can’t be thwarted. There is no power in this universe that can stop God’s working in my life. I love this quote by A.W Pink:
The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. His government is exercised over inanimate matter, over the brute beasts, over the children of men, over angels good and evil, and over Satan himself. No revolving of a world, no shining of a star, no storm, no movement of a creature, no actions of men, no errands of angels, no deeds of the devil- nothing in all the vast universe can come to pass otherwise than God has eternally purposed. Here is the foundation of faith. Here is the resting place for the intellect. Here is the anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast. It is not blind fate, unbridled evil, man or devil, but the Lord Almighty who is ruling the world, ruling it according to his own good pleasure and for his own eternal glory.
His Thoughts Are Higher Than Ours
The difficulty can be reconciling this doctrine with our lives. How can it be true that God is sovereign and working toward my good when there are terrible things happening in my life? Maybe you’ve lost your job, maybe you’re battling a long-term illness, or maybe you recently buried a loved one. You might ask, “Where is God? What’s ‘good’ about this?”
We must understand that God’s thoughts are higher than ours. There are circumstances in our life that we might never understand. Things happen and we’ll never be able to see how God is using them for good. When we think of what is ‘good,’ we often assume that means we won’t have trouble, sickness, death, or hardship. However, Scripture tells us we will experience these things until the final consummation when God finally and fully takes them away. We live in a cursed world and still feel the effects of that curse.
But, if we know that God is sovereign, then we have hope that not a moment in our life is wasted. Every circumstance, even the difficult ones, are drawing our hearts closer to Christ and loosening our grip on the things of this world.
We know well the story of Job. He was a righteous man who feared the Lord. God had blessed him with many children and many possessions. However, Satan came to God seeking permission to take everything away, and God granted it. In one day, Job lost all his possessions and buried all ten of his children. He tore his robe and shaved his head overwhelmed with the news. Yet, he didn’t curse the Lord or shake his fist at him for bringing this about, instead he worshiped: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Job knew that nothing happens beyond God’s control, and even if he didn’t understand why God would give at times, and at other times take away, he determined he would trust and worship God anyway.
The sovereignty of God isn’t some abstract theological idea that has little meaning in our lives. Rather, it’s endless fuel for worship of God even in the midst of uncertainty and despair. It doesn’t make life easy, but it does give hope. Realizing my lack of control doesn’t have to paralyze me with fear, instead it fixes my eyes on the Almighty Creator. Knowing that a wise and loving God is orchestrating the events in my life brings comfort to my weary soul. When fear of the unknown begins to grip your heart, dwell on the comforting truth of God’s sovereignty.