I have been pondering the sovereignty of God lately. I was listening to a sermon where the peacher was saying how we so often think God has a “perfect will” for our lives in big things like who we marry, where we go to school, what job we take, what house we buy etc. and we agonize over these decisions and later always wonder if somehow we missed it. Yet we tend to think that the little things of life are less of a big deal. Yet, time and time again, it is those little things that determine the course of history. Like, the cry of a baby long ago from the rushes at the side of the Nile River. That baby’s cry led to the finding of Moses, and from there the world was changed. Last month a bridge fell. Amazingly few people were killed in what could have been SO much worse. Many people who were on the bridge or who might ordinarily have been on the bridge at that time commented on the little things that happened that day – a colleague running late picking them up. Working a little late to get a computer virus off a machine. Getting sick and having to call in sick for work that evening. Heavy traffic causing them to get stuck up waiting a second time at a red light. An impulsive decison to take a different route. A bus load of children stopping a very few feet from the edge of the break, not crashing into the burning truck next to it nor going off the edge on the other side.
I have been reading through the book of Isaiah recently. If there is one message there, it is of the sovereignty of God. God Himself is directly quoted in much of the book. His message is loud and clear – He hates sin and will punish it. He is holy. Yet He also determined that a way of salvation would be available for the whole world. He is loving, compassionate, and merciful. He is the Creator and has the power and authority to do as He wants to. His plans from long ago cannot be thwarted and will happen. He will even raise up people to accomplish His will who do not know Him. He will punish, yet restore. “that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other,” (Is 45:6) “And all flesh will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Is 49:26b)
Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” It doesn’t say that all things are good. But all things works together for good. And Who else could coordinate all the little things in all the people’s lives in all of history?
A friend recently shared some hard truths about her marriage. Their adult children confronted them, told them bluntly that their relationship to each other, which is admittedly full of conflict, has been hard on them as children, is hard on other people and does not honor God. Have they considered just getting a divorce. The husband/father responded, “But I promised I would never divorce her.” To which their son-in-law in tears responded, “But is that what you should promise? Or should it be that you promised to love her and cherish her no matter what, even to the point of sacrificing yourself?” Ouch. She sadly commented to me that she and her husband have not even talked to each other about that meeting with their kids.
It is true, my friend’s relationship with her husband is stormy, many public outbursts that are embarassing indeed for others around them. From a human perspective, especially from a 21st century Western perspective, why keep it up? The kids are grown and on their own, why keep up the charade? But yet, from God’s perspective, all things work together for good. It doesn’t mean all things are good. They are not. And it certainly doesn’t mean everything is easy – it most assuredly is not. Yet, is it possible that in this stormy relationship, God is fulfilling His good purposes? Is it possible that the friction over money is God’s way of trying to point out to the one his irresponsibility in caring for those God put in his care? Is He trying to point out to the other that her trust should be in Him and not in earthly security? Is it possible God is trying to show the one his laziness and self-centeredness and the other her manipulative ways and self-centeredness? Is it possible He is trying to teach the one to look honestly at himself and his own sins and see himself as God sees him, rather than always justifying himself and blaming others for everything? Is He trying to teach the other to forgive and to not hold grudges in the same way that He has forgiven her and is not holding grudges? And is He possibly also teaching lessons to their children, and to us their friends and colleagues?
Does God put each of us in the crucible best suited to separating the dross from the gold?