The Sovereignty of God. That is what I am studying this week in my devotional–The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie. The first couple of days of this chapter had confused me, because I felt like what it was teaching contradicted what was taught in the chapter on “Why.” In that chapter Nancy addresses some of the actual reasons behind suffering. They include consequences of sin, living in a fallen world, Satan’s attacks, and God’s discipline. But first let me back up.
When Emma died, I clung to what I knew of the sovereignty of God. It comforted me to think that Emma’s short life, and yes her death was in his plan. When others mentioned that this was a tragedy, that it was the result of living in a fallen world, I cringed. It hurt to think of it that way. Then I read the chapter on “why.” I saw the truth in what others had said and I understood it. I accepted it and my thinking has been more along those lines lately.
Now I am reading the chapter on sovereignty and wondering how both things can be true. It confuses me, but even in the midst of my confusion I can see Emma’s smiling face and remember, that yes, her death had a purpose, and yes at the same time she died because of bad genetic code, a consequence of a fallen world. Both things are true. In order to sort out some of this confusion, I went back to the original chapter and looked up the Bible passages. None of them contradicted the strongly worded passages in this chapter. For example: Isaiah 14:24, 26-27 “The LORD Almighty has sworn this oath: ‘It will happen as I have planned. It will come about according to my purposes. I have a plan for the whole earth, for my mighty power reaches throughout the world.’ The Lord Almighty has spoken–who can change his plans? When his hand moves, who can stop him?” And Isaiah 45:6-7 “so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” In fact the 5th day of chapter “Why” addresses the fact that God redeems the bad and makes it good.
It is still a bit jumbled in my mind, but one of the things God has been teaching me lately is to trust him. To trust him when I don’t understand, to trust him that he is good, and to trust him that his plan is the best no matter what. I guess the sovereignty of God is a scary thing when you think about it. To totally accept it and release yourself, along with those you love, to God, means that you accept what he may choose for you, be it prosperity or disaster. But on top of that, he is calling to me, telling me that what he chooses, though it may look like disaster is his good.
I know this is a hard picture to look at, but it embodies for me this struggle between God’s sovereignty and the fallenness of the world. If you look at it I think you will see what I mean. It is suffering, and yet this is the smile that I see when I think of Emma. This is the smile that brings hope to the darkness and joy to my memories: