It’s a hard thing to wrap our minds around the Sovereignty of God. That He knows all and acts to accomplish His purposes for His glory even when they include what we see as Plan B. Jerry Bridges defines God’s Sovereignty this way,
“This is the essence of God’s sovereignty; His absolute independence to do as He pleases and His absolute control over the actions of all His creatures. No creature, person, or empire can either thwart His will or act outside the bounds of His will.”
Without making this a major discourse, let me mention a few reasons this is so hard for us, and then why its so glorious.
1) It’s hard because the Biblical Language expresses events from both perspectives. Often we read the Scriptures and see things described from a human vantage point – Judas betrayed Jesus (Mk 3:19), Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified (Mk 15:15), but then are given later the Divine vantage point – God gave him up for us all (Rom 8:32). When we sit back and see the whole picture or event, we understand these unified yet different vantage points. But in isolated phrases or when we aren’t given the whole picture, it’s not hard to grasp why we get stumbled up in the doctrine of the sovereignty of God.
2) It’s hard because we know the Sinful Choices we make, or the evil choices made by others, and the human direction of the outcome feels very directed by the free and “all-too-powerful” choices of the sinful human heart. The younger brother in the Prodigal story choose to squander his inheritance in sinful reckless living, only to find himself in the pigpen at the end of the indulgence (Lk 15:12-16). He choose plan B and got a plan B ending, it makes human sense and feels very logical, sovereignty complicates that scenario.
3) It’s hard because we don’t like the idea of a Almighty God We Can’t Understand. When we see evil in the world, we immediately (Believer and Unbeliever alike) grieve, wishing that hadn’t happened, would stop, and won’t ever happen again. The idea that God has the power to stop it, and yet seems distant and uninvolved troubles our justice-driven minds and compassion-motivated hearts.
Again let us listen to Jerry Bridges from Trusting God,
“The sovereignty of God is often questioned because man does not understand what God is doing. Because He does not act as we think He should, we conclude He cannot act as we think He would.”
I know this – We live in a fallen world, where everything is tainted by sin and groaning to be redeemed. Certainly this impacts not only human decisions, but the tragedies that strike mankind in sickness and calamity. Pointing us not to a God who doesn’t care, but to a God who has loved to the utmost making rescue from this fallen, wicked world of ours a certainty.
I know this – Satan is not more powerful than God, so for all the realities of spiritual warfare (Eph 6:12), our focus is not to be on the “binding of the darkness”, but the “power of the light” found at the cross and the completed work of Jesus Christ.
AND I know this – While Judas betrayed, and Pilate gave the crucifixion orders, God accomplished the greatest deliverance for mankind out of the greatest tragedy of justice of all time. And while the younger brother choose sinful self-discovery ending in sorrow and disappointment, God brought him to himself in order to bring him to HIMSELF.
Where is the comfort? I think Joni Eareckson Tada points that out to us quite simply …
“Nothing is a surprise to God; nothing is a setback to His plans; nothing can thwart His purposes; and nothing is beyond His control. His sovereignty is absolute. Everything that happens is uniquely ordained by God. Sovereignty is a weighty thing to ascribe to the nature and character of God. Yet if He were not sovereign, He would not be God. The Bible is clear that God is in control of everything that happens.”
Do we choose Plan B’s? Yup, and we will at some time during most weeks. Does God give us His Plan B? Nope, His plan A for us is always right on course. So, trust Him … and give yourself each and every day to making as many Plan A choices of the Father as you can, knowing that even your Plan B’s can’t thwart the plan of God in your life.
Comforted in God’s Sovereignty,