This fall, we’re taking our 3rd, 4th, and 5th Graders about through a series called Knowing God Better. Throughout this series, we’re looking at what the Bible has to say about the character of God. The goal of this study is not simply to learn facts about God. Rather, the goal is to understand God in a way that deepens our appreciation and love for Him, that deepens our relationship with Him. The goal is to understand God in a way that motivates us to become more like Him.
The Description of God’s Sovereignty
Why should we turn to God when life gets tough? That’s a question each of us needs to be able to answer, and it’s a question directly tied to the issue of God’s sovereignty. But as we try to understand the sovereignty of God, I think the first question we need to ask is: What do we mean when we say that God is sovereign?
There are many different forms of government across the globe. In the United States, we have a what is known as a representative democracy, where the leaders are elected to represent the interests of the people; and the President of the United States is the highest ranking member of our government. He is elected by the people and is responsible to serve the people. But that’s not how it works in every country.
Because Swaziland is ruled by a monarch, things work differently in there than they do here in the United States. In Swaziland, King Mswati doesn’t answer to the people. The people answer to him. As the sovereign of Swaziland, King Mswati can do almost anything he wants. And he can make the citizens of Swaziland do almost anything he wants. He is in complete control, and whatever he says goes.
The question is: which ruler is more like God in terms of the authority he has over his nation—the King of Swaziland or the President of the United States? With all due deference to the man and his office, the President of the United States is on the losing side of this question.
God doesn’t run a democracy. People don’t vote God into office when we like what he’s doing and out of office when we don’t like what he’s doing. God is the king. He is sovereign. But His sovereignty extends far beyond any single region or principality.
The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.
The Extent of God’s Sovereignty
Let’s consider some of the specific subsets to which the sovereignty of God extends.
The Earth and All Its People
You established the earth, and it stands. They stand this day according to Your ordinances, for all things are Your servants.
The Lifetimes of People
Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.
Scripture teaches that God determines the exact number of days that each person will live.
The Events of Our Lives
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God
Based on this verse, nothing can happen in the life of a Christian that isn’t intended for that person’s good. That includes the things we like as well as the things we don’t like. It includes things like job promotions and staff reductions; the birth of children and the loss of loved ones; unexpected generosity and undeserved maltreatment. It also includes sin. According to this verse, God even uses the sinful ways we rebel against Him to accomplish good in the lives of those who love Him.
That’s pretty incredible. That means if you’re a Christian—if there’s been a definite point in your life when you’ve asked Jesus to be your Savior—God is using everything in your life for your good. Now, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to like everything that happens in your life, but it does mean that God has a good purpose for everything that happens to you.
The Benefit of God’s Sovereignty
What good purpose is God trying to accomplish?
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…
According to the Apostle Paul, God is striving to accomplish a single goal in the life of every Christian—Christlikeness.
Remember the question we posed at the outset of this discussion? Why should we turn to God when life gets tough? Here’s the answer: because God uses everything in our lives to help us grow.
God’s primary concern for the lives of all those who have trusted Christ is not that we would have everything that we want. It’s not that we would never experience any difficulties. God’s primary concern for our lives is that we would grow to become more like Jesus. As God looks at our lives, He may determine that the tool that will best help you become like Jesus is some kind of problem or some kind of challenge. And so, He allows us to experience problems or challenges.
Unfortunately, when God allows difficulty to enter our lives, that doesn’t mean we will automatically become like Christ. No, we have a choice to make. We have to decide how we’re going to respond to that challenge. We have to ask ourselves, “Am I going to draw closer to God by seeking to please Him during this trial? Or am I going to reject God by seeking to please myself?”
Questions for Consideration
- How should the sovereignty of God impact the way you think about the problems you face?
- How has God used past challenges to help you grow?
- How have you misused past challenges by failing to grow?
- What practices could you put in place to help you respond well to future challenges?