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 Jan Owen. Jan lives in northern Alabama with her husband and works as the Worship Minister at The Brook. She is also the founder of I am also the founder of GiveWorship, a program that supports worship ministries in 3rd world countries.
I am not a theologian. The thought of sitting down and debating differing views of the sovereignty of God does not fill me with joy, although I don’t mind sharing what I believe or engaging in an honest conversation. So this will not be a theological or academic treatise, but simply my observations and conclusions as a follower of Christ. They are imperfect and unfinished. This is something I admit with total honesty. I’m okay with that. I know I have much to learn.
I’ve been a believer for 33 years and have walked through more joy than difficulty, and have stayed buried in God’s word through all the adventures life has brought. Along the path of my spiritual journey, I’ve learned much about the sovereignty of God as I’ve sought Him in both the glorious moments as well as those times when life truly hurts and makes no sense whatsoever. I’ve had my share of questions and wondered at times about things that bothered me, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I am incapable of understanding all of the intentions of God. His ways are above my ways, his thoughts above mine. But after all this traveling (I sound ancient, don’t I?) I can trust this one thing: God’s intentions towards me are loving. Period.
I believe this question of God’s intentions is where we most often get stuck in the question of sovereignty – we long to know and be assured that God is good, and that he is all powerful, and that his love is towards us as individuals, not just some murky all encompassing love, but a real, true love for me, and for you. So evil – when it surely comes – confuses us. It makes us doubt God. And while most of us would not doubt his power, we might doubt his power towards us. We might wonder why he did not intervene on our behalf, or why he allowed a certain painful stage in our journey to occur.
I think we too often blame God for the free will actions of man – and perhaps for our own choices. We do live in a fallen world filled with resulting evil and people do things that are sinful. We all suffer as a result, not just the person who sins in action. This is part and parcel of the curse of sin! We also live in a state of “dying”, we are redeemed but not finally. Our bodies are fading away, and so we deal with the consequences of that as well. Truthfully, we are not in heaven – yet. And so we continue to battle sin – in others, in ourselves, and in the natural world that groans for the return of Jesus. And we live with the battle scars, and wonder why God allows the battle.
In all of my discussions of sovereignty this has been the key question for people. They want to know why God allows suffering, why does God allow the innocent to suffer in “the war”. They long to make sense of the pain of their lives, and who can blame them? I certainly don’t have all of the answers. I’ve sat by the bed of friends as life support was disconnected, I’ve held the hand of my grandfather whose mind was ravaged by Alzheimers, I’ve prayed with a parent whose child had just been in a head on collision, I’ve “babysat” a dear friend having a psychotic break as they suffered from many, many mental problems. None of those make sense to me. None of those are things I would wish on anyone. And I do not believe they are God’s desire for us either! Yet in each of these instances I have felt the sweet presence of God and I witnessed His love and power at work for good.
I have seen God use pain in some powerful ways. I don’t believe he ordained these circumstances, but I do believe he has the power to use them to bring us – and others – closer to himself, for eternity. I have peace about that. I believe he has the power to redeem us in the midst of the pain we suffer as we live in a world damaged and riddled by sin. I do not believe Satan has the final answer. I know God does.
One day we will see our Savior face to face. And we will understand.
For now, I trust in my Savior and his love for me. It is perfect.