By Paul Ntini.
The bible is very clear on God being sovereign and most Christians affirm God’s sovereignty, but do we understand the implications of it?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
It goes back to Genesis 1:1, which starts off with, “In the beginning God”. He has been there, in control, in charge, influenced by none and doing as he pleases from the beginning of time. No one can shake Him or hinder Him, just as His word says in Isaiah 46 :10 ‘My purpose will stand, I will do all that I please (NIV).’ This means God is God, He is on the throne of the universe directing all things after the counsel of His own will. There is no limit to God’s rule.
WHY KNOW HIS SOVEREIGNTY?
God’s sovereignty challenges us as people, because we love to be in control of everything in our lives. If life is not turning out the way we wanted, if the marriage we thought we would have has not happened, the degree is going south, we have lost loved ones, we’re unemployed, etc, we realise that we didn’t have the control we thought we had. We as believers need to know that only God is in power over everything and he does what pleases Him. That does sting and requires us to have faith that in his sovereignty, he is a good God.
Most of the time we may not understand why our health is failing, why our future looks bleak or why we are facing trial after trial. However, we can know that whatever God is doing it is for our good (Romans 8:28) and for his Glory. This should give us comfort, because we are not trusting in ourselves when we suffer, we are trusting in a God who is completely in control and in his great goal of Glorifying himself, he thinks of us and our good.
We live in a world that is influenced by certain trends, biases and views of others. Yet, the God of the bible is not influenced by anyone as no one whispers in His ear and He cannot be shaken or threatened. Who better to trust in? Feeble man or an unwavering God? He will always do what is right for his own glory. God reigns supreme in the affairs of men, He rules nations and families. Through he is great, he never forgets his children and is involved in every part of their lives with an unmovable hand (Daniel 4 verse 35). He rules over whether we live or die, whether we have money to study or whether we can pay the bills. Everything should be understood in relation to God. we should not always expect only good and nice things from God (Job 2 verse 10) , he does reign supreme in all men’s affairs.
DOES THIS MEAN WE DON’T STRUGGLE?
We are told in the book of Job that God is the one who allowed the devil to make Job suffer, the book states clearly that God said to Him “Do as you please, but do not take his life (Job 1).” That is a hard one to swallow, but God allowed one of his own to suffer and endure some of the most painful of human pains. God allowed His only son to be humiliated, stripped naked and given a crown of thorns for His own glory. In fact, the bible says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us”. Why would he spare me and you from suffering if those far more righteous than us experienced the pain they did?
As Christians we need to dwell on this absolute truth about God; if God is in control of the world, than we know that a good God is in control of suffering. He will use it for our good and for his greatness. Pondering on these truths about God should comfort us, bring clarity to us and make us realise we can cling to him. Most of the time we do not know why God allows certain things to happen, but we can trust that he is on the throne, that he sees the bigger picture and that he knows what is best.
FOR HIS OWN GLORY
We tend to live ignorant of the truth that God allows things to happen for His own glory and purposes. In your prayer life, do you pray for God to be glorified in your situation? Most of the time we give him a shopping list of issues to solve in our lives, not so that he can be glorified, but so that we can be comfortable. Often the way we pray shows that we really want to be in control of our lives and God is just the one who is implementing our commands. By doing this we are exalting ourselves above God and are really glorifying ourselves. Knowing that God is sovereign and that his goal is his own glory, means that we should pray and ask him to be glorified in everything.
Our lord Jesus understood this when he was in the garden of Gethsemane. He asked God the father to take away his “cup of wrath” if it was God’s will. He knew that going to the cross meant enduring the full wrath of God and so he asked if he could avoid it, only if it was God’s will. This shows the focus of his prayer was not to avoid suffering, but to do the will of God. In our economic, political and social climate where our Christians values are challenged, we should remember God will be glorified one way or the other. Jesus teaches that one of the first things we should pray is, “YOUR (God’s) kingdom come, your will be done” and only after this says we should pray “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:9 -13). God can do whatever he please with His creatures; he can exalt some people and dethrone others all for His own purposes. Sometimes we have to accept that God knows what is going on and He allows it to happen for his own glory.
Our attitude should be one of worship, “Oh Lord God I do not know it all and I do not understand what is happening all the time, but I know you are mighty and in control. Help me to trust in your sovereignty”.
Ask God to help us learn more about Him and His ways.
In our suffering we should glorify God by suffering as people who have the hope of receiving eternal life; we are aliens here and remember our non-believing friends are watching.
May we all pray, read the scripture and accept what the word of God has to say about this doctrine of God sovereignty.