I love the thought that God is completely sovereign over all the details of my life – and the world. It is, to me, a great expression of His love and a necessary ground of my great confidence in Him. I need not fear any failure of mine, any sin, any weakness: God in love is sovereign, and He will not permit the purposes of His love to fail because of my sinfulness. When I proclaim the Gospel, I need not fear either my inadequacy or my sin, because God is in control, and He loves me and everyone else. I need not fear any power of man: if I am tortured, God’s love will have chosen – out of perfect, stunning, all-encompassing love that staggers all imagination, love tenderer than a mother’s love for her newborn child and I mean that! – every throb of pain, every firing of the nerves, every detail, great or small, whether of intensity or quality or anything else, so that I will receive it as by His tender lovingkindness. When I look around at the world, I know that the brightness and colors of the clouds at sunset, that every hair on every blade of grass, is what and where it is because of God’s express will, and that He has made it all – exactly and precisely how it is, down to the exact position and length of each hair on each blade of grass – because He loves me – He loves me in Christ, for none of this takes away from the fact that the Father glorifies the Son in all things and only the Son, because the Son of God died for me and I am a member of His body. If you are in Christ, you can insert your name everywhere that I have spoken of myself.
This is what the sovereignty of God means to me. It is, first and foremost, an expression of His love. It is the reason for my confidence. Because God is sovereign, I can see His love for me in everything that happens to me and everything that is around me, whether it is the kind word of a friend or a hard prison floor. I can see His love for me in everything, whether is the hugeness of the sky or the smallness of a grain of dust. His love will expose me to no temptation in which He will not provide a way of escape so that I can stand up under it, and to no suffering in which He will not provide a refuge in which I can find peace and joy. The sovereignty of God is the fullness of the love of God.
From my perspective, with regards to whether I am helped or afflicted, cozy or suffering, all things are ordained by the choice of the wisdom of the love of God. Thus, to use again the illustration of torture, God will have ordained all the details of my suffering, when and how and what and by whom and to what degree, out of perfect tenderest love. He will not have decreed that the perpetrator, that the human being who becomes the torturer, should sin or do these evil things. In love, it would be His will that it happens to me: it would not be His will that any human being – including the particular responsible one – sins or does these things.
I sometimes use the phrase ‘ordains to allow’ when speaking of God’s providence in evil, but I am rather uncomfortable with it. I rather hate it when people talk about God allowing evil things to happen. I could not believe more strongly in God’s loving hand directly behind my personal experience of evil or suffering: I could not believe more strongly that it is against God’s will that the evil-doer commits atrocities, however large or small.
I know that it may seem that I am contradicting myself to some people. However, I know these things and that they do not contradict each other. I hope that someone may be encouraged by seeing this clumsy attempt on mine to tell about these things. I know that it is encouraging whenever I see or read about someone who knows something of that love and that glory of which I also know something, however small, and that it is helpful to see (and to learn from) the attempts of others to tell about that love and that glory.
Copyright 2018 Raina Nightingale