“Sometimes God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.”Joni Eareckson-Tada
Guilty confession: I sometimes live in a fake future; a future of my own projection where God is not present, sovereign, or good. This happens when my nervous system stops sending signals to lift my foot while on a hike, or when there’s a pandemic, or just on a normal Tuesday morning … Well, as it turns out, that fake future is a bad place to live. Not only is it gut-wrenching, but it’s simply not true. It’s a lie that Satan, my flesh, and the world tempt me to live in. And if I live there, I will self-protect, self- preserve, and ultimately self-serve; forgetting about others and forgetting about God in the present.
During our livestream worship gathering last week, we sang Sovereign Over Us and I was convicted that I’m not living as the song declares:
There is strength within the sorrowSovereign Over Us | Aaron Keyes. Bryan Brown, Jack Mooring
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust
Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever – perfect in love
You are sovereign over us
In my broken, immunosuppressed body (that fights against my nervous system), I can choose to worship God no matter what. In brokenness, I can worship more deeply, fully, and beautifully. Yet, as I stood singing, my heart was unsettled and restless. “You have to be careful!” my mind shouted.
This is very true. The ramifications of getting sick while I have less B-cells to fight it off (taking forever to get over sickness and incurring permanent damage resulting from white blood cells attacking the covering of my nervous system) are very real. Yet, I can choose whether or not to abide safely in Jesus with this knowledge. My outward actions probably need to remain the same – safe – but my heart needs a heavy dose of the truth, stability, and safety found only in the One who is faithful forever, perfect in love, and sovereign over us.
The reality is that even if I get sick, and even if my broken white blood cells go rogue and attack my nervous system, and even if my foot and leg (or eye, or hands, or bladder or whatever) stop working permanently, He is still sovereign over even that. Even if I am more permanently damaged, to God be the glory forever because that is what He has planned for me to love Him more deeply and proclaim Him more fully.
Nothing can touch us, as children of God, without God’s permission. Remember Job? Satan had to ask God for permission to take Job’s stuff, make him sick, allow his kids to die, and more. The book of Job is 42 chapters long but the story could have been told in merely 6. There are 36 chapters devoted to allowing us to walk with him through his questions, anguish, and pain. While knowing God is sovereign doesn’t take away the difficulty, or the grief, or the sitting in pain and suffering for a time, it does put those feelings in perspective with the eternal glory that outweighs it all. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
I’m thankful for the words of another song, He will Hold Me Fast, that remind me of the truth:
When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast.He Will Hold Me Fast | Ada Habershon & Matt Merker
His grip is stronger than my lack of faith. This is encouraging to me as I am bluntly, yet kindly, reminded of my lack of faith in who God says He is and who He has proven to be, time and time (and time) again.
This body is what God has given me to worship Him in. Broken, and hurting, and not always working right – it is where I am. I can worship Him in my present reality – my strong faith or my lack of faith; my fears and insecurities or my deep and abiding trust. This is the body, the season, and the place in which He has called me to live, move, breath, and worship. So, I will trust that I am held fast by a sovereign God who is always good, loving, faithful, and in charge.
And when I forget, I will repent and believe again … with this body that will one day – on the day of God’s choosing – finally and forever be made perfect.