What is the very “worst thing” that has ever happened to you?
Your “worst thing” may come immediately to mind.
Or you may think, “worst thing”? Nothing that bad has happened to me.
Or you may be weighing multiple “worst things” as candidates for the very “worst thing.”
Have you noticed that when we talk about the sovereignty of God, it is usually in the context of things we consider tragedies? We have no problem with God’s sovereignty when “He gives.” It’s the “and takes away” part that trips us up.
First off, I’ll tell you that I fall in the “multiple worst things” category. And I’ll tell you that God’s sovereignty was difficult for me to accept. Paradoxically, it was through these worst experiences that I have learned to love the sovereignty of God.
What does this doctrine mean?
“Definition: Sovereignty means that God, as the ruler of the universe, has the right to do whatever he wants. Further, he is in complete control over everything that happens” (http://christianity.about.com/od/glossary/a/Sovereignty.htm).
Psalm 115:3: Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Daniel 4:34 b, 35: for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” [emphasis mine]
Romans 9:20: But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'”
Does this definition — do these verses — make God sound loving and lovable? Well, that depends on your experience with God. If what God has done pleases you, then you’ll be fine with this. You won’t mind not being able to question God. But what if what He has done is not to your liking? How do you feel about His sovereignty then?
What about that very “worst thing”? Remember, none can say to Him, “What have you done?”
My Very “Worst Thing”
Let me tell you about a time I asked God, “What have you done?”
My husband left me when our children were six, three and a half, and one. I cried a lot. But I did not ask God, “What have you done?” I handled this so well my husband said I should be called “Amazing Grace.” He didn’t know that I knew for sure God would be bringing him back. The children and I prayed every night that He would bring Daddy (1) back to us and (2) back to Jesus.
I knew this prayer was according to God’s will. I assumed that the restoration of our marriage was right at the top of God’s daily agenda, that He got up every morning thinking about His strategy to get us back together, and there was no way my husband could fight God’s agenda. This was right in line with evangelical America’s 1980’s infatuation with all things marriage and family. So it was just a matter of praying and waiting patiently.
I prayed and waited patiently for two and a half years, right up until August 27th at 2:30 p.m., the hour of his marriage to another woman. My confused, unhappy children were to be attendants. A friend had taken confused, unhappy me to a park to pray. I was still waiting, admittedly a bit less triumphantly, for my miracle.
At 2:30, I cried out loud, very loud, to God, “What do you think You are doing? Don’t You know that the faith of three vulnerable children is riding on Your answer to this prayer? How could You let this happen?”
Yes, I, a human being, was talking back to God. “What have You done?”
Right then, it started raining. And, strange as it may seem, the rain brought comfort. It was as though God was crying with me. And my anger eased. My anguished rant had been very short. (In tomorrow’s article I will tell you how God had prepared me for this “worst time” with an earlier “worst time.”)
Because of my prior experience with God, I was ready to accept His incomprehensible plan, knowing that the pleasure God takes is never in sin or in sorrow. When the children came home I told them that our prayer now would just be “Please bring Daddy back to Jesus.”
Twenty-seven years later, my children’s Daddy still has not come back to Jesus. Do I need to know why? No. Do I need to know if he was ever really a Christian? No.
No, mine is just to know with certainty that nothing has slipped out of God’s control. Nothing ever has. Nothing ever will. That’s what God’s sovereignty is all about.