Recently I was shown a brochure many are finding in their mailboxes these days. The main subject of this one was why there’s suffering in the world. I’d also just recently heard a speech on the same subject, by a well-known Christian, Joni Erickson Tada, who’s been quadriplegic most of her life. She explained how many today push the idea that God is just a distant observer who’s not really personally involved in His creation and that evil and suffering just happens randomly. Ironically, this is also what that brochure was pushing and its called Deism. But Joni explained what she called the “theology of suffering,” where God allows what He hates in order to accomplish what He loves. And she said God’s sovereignty in suffering can be better understood if we look to the suffering of Jesus.
For example, in Acts2:23 and 4:28 we see that God determined beforehand what would happen to Jesus. We also see here how God ordains for His purposes to be brought about by “wicked hands.” He sovereignly directed their wickedness to fulfill His purposes, even though they didn’t realize it (Prov.20:24, Jer.10:23). And although the wicked do it from evil motives, God does it sinlessly, for He cannot do evil (Job 34:10-12).
Even as far back as Genesis 45:5-8 we see God directing the evil actions of the wicked in order to bring about His purposes. Joseph’s brothers meant evil against him, but Gen. 50:20 says God meant it for good, because He is good and all that He does is good. In fact, He works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom.8:28). So we can be comforted in knowing that we can have hope in God, for there is no random, purposeless evil or suffering in this world.
So are the wicked excused because God directs their wickedness to fulfill His purposes? Absolutely not, because God didn’t cause them to be wicked, He only directed the evil that was already in their heart. We are all responsible to God no matter what (Rom. 9:20). And even when God works good from our evil, we cannot take any credit for it. Yet, if God hadn’t set up everything this way, we’d think we could control everything and even take credit for our own salvation. But God has set everything up so perfectly, that we might get a glimpse of how beautiful and miraculous His grace and mercy really is.
But personally, even after writing about the sovereignty of God for over 2 years now, I still can’t completely wrap my feeble mind around it. And it seems that along with every article I’ve written, God in His mercy has often disciplined me thru some very painful depths of suffering to bring me to the end of myself. Perhaps to save me from the prideful pitfalls that often happen when one tries to proclaim the beauty of God’s sovereignty and salvation. All I know is that it’s been only in my weaknesses that I’ve truly been able to realize the strength of God’s grace.
And so when it comes to God’s sovereignty, in puddles of tears and pleas for mercy, I have to confess, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Psa. 139:6). “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out” (Rom.11:33). So along with Paul I have to say, I am determined to know nothing among you, except Christ and Him crucified (1Cor.2:2). Sis. Lee Anne—-much needed prayer and humbling rebukes from God’s people are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org