There seems to be ever-growing numbers of people who are convinced that God has a finger on the pulse of everything and everybody. In Baptist circles, in particular, we have a new breed of minister and believer who is stressing the Sovereignty of God. Among them are those who say that God’s sovereignty is absolute, that nothing happens without God being the force behind it.
I must confess that there is something comforting and freeing about the idea. If God is sovereign, if God is behind all that happens, there is a reason behind all that happens—even, as we’re often told, behind those things we can’t understand but will someday. If God is sovereign, I am not responsible. I do what I do because somehow what I do, good or bad, is part of the sovereign will of God. If God is sovereign, I need not wrestle with the hard questions of life—why some children are born horribly deformed and with mental deficiencies, why an earthquake devastates the island of Japan or a why a madman goes on a killing rampage, or why terrorists fly planes into buildings or why a young father lies immobile in his hospital bed receiving meds in the hope that his Multiple Sclerosis will once again relapse. We just can’t understand it, but God has a reason.
Yes, there is something comforting and freeing about the idea of God’s sovereignty, but not in the way in which it is often believed and presented. The God revealed in Jesus is not a god who kills the innocent to get to the guilty. Jesus’ God does not afflict the healthy to make them strong. Jesus’ God does not take away human will and human responsibility. Jesus’ God sets us free to live as the persons we were created to be. Jesus’ God is not the God who sends an earthquake to devastate a land; Jesus’ God is the God who huddles with the masses as destruction occurs—comforting the afflicted, weeping with those who mourn, and pointing beyond the moment, reminding us that there is life in death, a way through the darkness, redemption and resurrection.
I, too, believe in the sovereignty of God. I believe God reigns and that God’s purposes shall never be ultimately thwarted. I believe so much in the sovereignty of God that I do not fear that tornadoes or earthquakes or famines or wars or our sins will keep God’s will from being realized. I do not believe that tornadoes or earthquakes or famines or wars or our sins are God’s will. In fact, I believe they are the opposite of God’s will. Yet, God reigns. God, who was and is and shall ever be, reigns!
In the midst of the horrible and the good, God is; and where God is, the Divine purpose is always the same—to work for good. So believes the young father who lies in his hospital bed suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. “God didn’t give me this; but he has made it possible for me to discover that MS does not rob me of my living or of the opportunity to bear witness to God’s goodness.”
I often argue with the Apostle Paul; but in Romans 8, he got a few things right. God doesn’t cause everything; but God does work in and through all things for good. Thanks be to God!
Read more from Michael at his blog.