This post is a part of the Sovereignty of God Blog Series going on throughout the months of July and August. You can read about the series and see a schedule of the posts here. You can subscribe to all the posts here.
Today’s post is from Jenelle D’Alessandro. Jenelle currently lives in southern California. She is about to graduate from Fuller Theological Seminary with an M.A. in Global Leadership, and an M.A in Theology. Jenelle is included in this series because she has an incredible ability to be theological and creative at the same time. It is something I aspire after but she can do that so naturally.
I think it is cute that Tyler asked me to send a contribution towards this thick topic on the eve of my very last class at Seminary. My years at Fuller have taught me much, but alas, I still cannot answer the awful questions of God’s Sovereignty. In some ways I am waking up with more proverbial questions than answers. And that is alright.
The Ancients used to say in vino veritas. There is truth in wine. What is true for wine is even more true for the red violence of rejection, abandonment, and any number of unhealed human wounds.
Here’s what I really think about God’s Sovereignty: we can pontificate all we want when it is sunny outside, when all feels right with the world. What we really believe about God gets squeezed out like a heavy orange on a juicer when we are in Pain.
The questions that I think matter the most are the most awful ones to face, because it seems these actually do have answers: What do we really believe about God and his intentions towards us, anyway? Is he mad at us? Is he trustworthy? Is he really Good?
But then, there are the unanswerables. To me, all of the unanswerable questions of God and his Sovereignty feel interconnected with my understanding of aesthetics. Beautiful things don’t always need complete explanations. They just are. We love them for that. And we keep our eyes intently on them.
I understand God and his weird Sovereignty as a painting in a museum that I cannot completely interpret. It is raw. It is enigmatic. It is sometimes frightening. I am standing and looking for weeks, years, centuries, and I am still wondering what it means.
The standing and the waiting is part of prayer. And oh, do we pray.
But, like all quandries of Scripture and Christian conscience, I realize I do have a choice. I must choose what I believe to be God’s deepest essence, even when his Sovereignty seems sometimes frightening and mysterious. When the heavy questions of Pain go unanswered.
When it comes to God’s Sovereignty, what is the Scriptural grid that I read all other confusing passages through? Which verses and declarations do I turn to as a primary magnifying glass?
More and more, my perspectives on faith are being colored by the field of Christian Ethics. Like Glen Stassen and others, I’ve chosen to understand difficult questions of conscience through this first grid: Jesus Christ is Lord. My second grid is this: If you watch Jesus, you’ll understand what the Father is like (John 14:9).
I suppose that means that God is loving, compassionate, and freedom-giving. But if we take the more difficult pictures of Jesus as fair game–and we should–it also means that God is mysterious, confrontational, and at times outright confusing. (i.e. Dear Jesus, why are you fighting with that fig tree when it is clearly not the season for figs?)
In all of the impossible questions of God’s Sovereignty, I walk through the gospels till my legs hurt, but I most assuredly end up is the Psalms. I sit in the Psalms like a hot bath. All of them. Even the cursing ones. That’s where I can find all of the raw beauty and mystery of a person in pain and joy, trying to respond to an impossible painting of God and the way he moves.
(photo by Ian.Crowther)