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 Ric Wild. Ric currently lives in Chicago after spending the past 2 years in New Hampshire doing an internship at a church in Rye, New Hampshire. Ric just recently got engaged to a girl he met in that area named Carol and we are both so excited for them after meeting Carol in May. Ric and I have been good friends since 8th grade and he is currently attending North Park Seminary in Chicago in pursuit of an M.Div.
I must admit that I have a difficult time making sense out of the sovereignty of God. When I survey the whole of Christian Scripture, I am confronted with a God whose dealings with humanity are sometimes varied and complex. In some instances, God seems to be controlling human decisions in a puppet-like manner. Other times, God seems almost manipulated by human pleadings.
An example of God controlling human decisions is in the Exodus story when God hardens the heart of Pharaoh. The text is explicit: “But [God] will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.” (Ex. 4:21). In this case, God’s actions seem to overrule the will of the Pharaoh to enact a specific outcome.
After Israel’s journey from out of Egypt, God’s anger burns against the people because they have turned to idol worship. God wants to destroy the people, but Moses seeks the favor of God on the people’s behalf, and in the end God relents and does not bring disaster upon the people (Ex 32). Moses gets God to become more lenient with the people.
In a single book of the Bible, Exodus, God’s sovereignty is displayed in two radically different ways. What are we to make of this? Perhaps advancing to the book of Job will provide a needed perspective.
The book of Job, at least at the popular level, is seen as a book about human suffering and perseverance. Job endures unimaginable suffering at the hands of Satan. In the end, Job proves to be a righteous man and overcomes his infliction and receives a great abundance from the Lord. But let us not forget who invokes Satan to put Job to the test.
I believe Job is a book primarily about God’s sovereignty. Human suffering and perseverance have their place in the narrative, but God’s sovereignty is at the heart of the book. The book is about a God that mystifies expectations and categorizations. It says to us: Just when you think you’ve God all figured out…BAM! God does something entirely unexpected.
Putting one’s trust in a God like this is scary business. I am a person who thrives on predicability and consistency. I don’t like it when things don’t go according to plan. I want safe and comfortable. However, God doesn’t seem to operate this way. And so I must ask myself: Am I Okay serving a sovereign God that acts outside of what I find predicable, consistent, safe and comfortable? Am I willing to trust God? Am I willing to let go of my insecurities and throw myself into the unknown?
These are not questions easily answered. I suppose I have answered Yes to these questions and to have answered as such is in part what it means to be Christian. However, I suspect that these are the kinds of questions that will linger for a lifetime.