by Cheri Ryan
Last week, during a family devotional on God’s omnipotence, one of my children asked, “Why doesn’t God change Satan’s heart and help him become a Christian; so that we don’t have to worry about him being in the world, trying to trick us?” This is not a question that has an easy answer, especially for a first grader. I pointed her towards God’s glory; that one of the mysteries of this life is that things that look and feel bad often draw us closer to God, which leads to greater worship and glory for Him. Her question was another reminder of a truth that the Spirit has been nudging me about over the past few months about the sovereignty of God.
When the world is full of such uncertainty, I find myself tempted to succumb to worry and anxiety about the future. Every time I say, “I know God is sovereign but …” I reveal that, in my heart, I’m ordering the world in a way where man is big, sin is big, and God is small. When faced with a virus that has no vaccine and limited treatment, when faced with a country that is divided by 400 years of racial injustice, when faced with economic uncertainty the likes of which haven’t been seen for 100 years, I have to ask, “Why does God allow such things?”
I find comfort in verses like Proverbs 16:33 that says every outcome that seems like luck or fate actually belongs to the Lord. Acts 2:23 reminds us that Jesus’ trial and death were both fully within the “definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” In John 19:11, Jesus states, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” What do these verses have in common? God’s control never falters, never fails. Even the worst event in the history of all humanity, the murder of God himself, was firmly within God’s power and control.
How does this apply to my life, as we start to emerge from our isolation into a world that feels very changed? For me, these truths point me towards two conclusions:
- Trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness is the antidote to my worry and fear.
- God’s will and God’s way often does not look like anything I would design and may come about in a manner that looks hard and that I want to avoid.
When my anxious thoughts threaten to edge out my faithful ones, or when my flesh recoils from the hardships before me, I can turn to the One who is fully in control and, through prayer, pour out those worries and doubts.
Through the work of the Spirit, something has changed in me these past few weeks. I’m still concerned that my asthmatic daughter may get respiratory distress due to Covid-19, but I’m not overwhelmed. I know God’s provision for my family may look very different than a financial planner’s advice for our future, but I won’t hoard our resources out of fear that God’s provision won’t be enough. And when speaking to my daughters about why there is suffering and temptation at all in a world that God made, I point them to prayer, inviting the Spirit to rest with us, even if we’re worried. I remind them (and myself) to take their eyes off the sin and rest them fully on the Savior. He didn’t save Himself from ultimate suffering because of his love for us and his trust in the Father. Therefore, I will strive to embrace his call on my life, both the good and the hard, out of love and trust in Him.