“Well it will all work out because God is Sovereign…right?” or “It’s all good, God is sovereign.” Who talks like this? Well, I for one have and thinking back I just want to apologize to anyone whom I may have ever said this to. I often would say this after I made a careless decision or I felt the need to affirm someone that was going through a trial.
Is God Sovereign? Yes.
Author and theologian A.W. Pink defines God’s Sovereignty as, “the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the god-hood of God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that God is God. To say that God is Sovereign is to declare that He is the Most High, doing according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth…we affirm His right to govern the universe which He has made for His own glory, just as He pleases.”
We often view this attribute of God as our “get out of jail free card” thinking it gives us license to make stupid decisions or worse -- letting us think it is okay to do what we want because “God has my back.” We often use it as our excuse to end relationships, to not spend time with people, or worse -- not share the gospel with people. If we view sovereignty this way, then we don’t really get it.
When we think of the sovereignty of God we often view it apart from all His other attributes. We need to remember the Lord is not like us; humans can’t be both joyful and full of wrath at the same time. I’m certainly not being holy when I am angry. But God is not like you and me, He’s not a created being. He is all things at all times. He’s never changing, so he is consistently sovereign in His holiness, providence, love, righteous, kindness, and power all at the same time. When we study or investigate the mystery of the Lord's sovereignty we need to remember that He is all of his attributes at the same time.
God is not a spectator in the sky who swoops in to clean up your messes. We often live as though He is. When a Christian woman marries a Non-Christian man and says it will work out because God is sovereign. . . yes, it will work out because God is sovereign but not in the way you may think it will work out. God being sovereign doesn’t mean we will never experience pain, suffering, or even joy from our decisions we make. In fact, it is often the opposite. It may be that in his sovereignty we experience those things because He cares more about our true needs rather than our earthly comfort; this is true fatherly love. But because God is sovereign we know that He is so much more than a spectator, he is actively participating in your life.
Because God is God, He’s clearly in control and I am not. But I am all too quick to forget this when things are going well. At the end of a great day I often give myself credit and think I must have done something right. The lie that I am in control can quickly creep in altogether to discount a powerful God ruling on his throne (who is reigning far better than I could).
When I am faced with trials, suffering, or even just turning on the news it’s easy for me to remember that God is control, because I am reminded of my need for Him in that minute. A need that is for him to be God reigning and ruling according to his will for His glory. I am quickly thrown off my temporary throne and long for a Lord who rules perfectly on His everlasting throne. There is comfort and hope knowing that God is sovereign, but we also need to be quick to remind people that God loves us.
A few years ago I was working for a company and endured sexual harassment. People were always quick to remind me that God was sovereign over that whole situation and experience. I knew and believed that God was in control but what I needed most in that trial was to be reminded that God is sovereign in his loving-kindness towards me as well.
We often don’t know what to say to people who are grieving, hurting, or suffering, so we apply the sovereignty band-aid to provide comfort for what is going on. Viewing the Lord only as sovereign is not comforting, yes we can be reminded that he is control, but God is not a dictator ruling miles away. He is ruling for our good and His glory, with compassion, justice, love, gentleness and mercy. To say God is sovereign is true. . . in that moment and all moments to come, but we need to remember that he is not only sovereign.
God being sovereign doesn’t mean we will know why things happen. It’s not a card to play when we want something or to break up with someone or to not truly grieve suffering or to use a blanket statement to provide a solution. While it's a real truth, we cheapen it by not taking the time to unpack the gravity of what it actually means. God being sovereign means that He is reigning. It means He knows, cares, loves and provides for His people. And praise God, we have an eternity to dive into the beauty of the mystery of God’s sovereignty.