Is God Really Sovereign?

by Sharon Betters

 

TODAY’S TREASURE

God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?

Numbers 23:19

 

Dear Friends,

“Is God really sovereign? Can I trust Him now…even in this?”

The steady, virulent progress of the malignant brain tumor gave real urgency to these questions for David. The disease had progressed relentlessly; a cure seemed unlikely. David knew he didn’t have much time. He wanted his last few days on earth to count, to reflect a heart in tune with God’s purposes. David wanted to know – he needed to know – if this painful death was really from God’s hand. Would God care for his young wife and three children after he was gone? Would God really walk with them through the valley of the shadow of death? David needed to trust God, but how could he? How could he?

We understand David’s questions. When our son Mark and his friend Kelly were killed in a car accident on July 6, 1993, our own struggle to survive nearly consumed us. Slowly and surely, however, God reminded us that just surviving is not enough. We needed a purpose, a reason to keep moving forward, or we were never going to make it. Like David, we were weary, uncertain of whether we could really trust the God who was calling us to persevere.

Our search for answers led us to the book of Hebrews. This book of the Bible was most likely originally a series of short sermons written for people just like us – people tempted to give up their faith in the face of great hardship. These Jewish Christians, who lived during the first century, were persecuted, afraid and discouraged. Some had already abandoned the faith and had returned to their former lifestyles; others were sorely tempted to do so. Like us, these frightened people needed a faith that is real, that is alive, a faith that holds up in the nitty-gritty problems and sorrows of every day life. Like us the Hebrew believers needed desperately to remember that God had promised to strengthen His people, to love them, to be with them, to redeem them. God’s covenant promise was, and is, binding. Like us, sometimes they forgot that God keeps His promises:

God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?

Numbers 23:19

In the crucible of suffering, what we believe about God takes on critical importance. What is our reaction when God doesn’t resolve our problem when He doesn’t’ keep His promises the way we thought He would or reconcile our marriages even when we’ve completed every assignment in the marriage manual? Such disappointment will quickly reveal whether our faith is based on an intimate, trusting relationship with God or merely on the blessings He so generously gives us.

Suffering drives believers to God, but what is it that we want from Him? Do we settle for pat, simplistic, “theologically correct” answers, or do we hunger for a living knowledge of our heavenly Father through a personal relationship with Jesus? Do we demand tidy formulas that explain everything to our satisfaction, or do we submit ourselves to the One whose thoughts and ways are far above ours? Do we simply want to feel better, or do we ask God to equip us to persevere with joy, and to encourage and strengthen others in their struggle? Is it possible to experience joy when each new day brings another reminder that we live in a broken and suffering world?

In our own personal search for answers, we soon learned that many of the Christian world’s recipes for living and clichés for dealing with pain are nothing more than man-centered formulas rather than true biblical counsel. Instead of encouraging us to live sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), they promote sola bootstrappa striving. Such striving may give some momentary relief, but eventually, it comes up empty unless it is driven by a vision of God’s character and ultimate purposes. What we believe about God is what provides the basis for our worldview, the window through which we view every event in our lives and which determines our responses. Understanding God’s ultimate purpose helps us to see the trials in our lives, and the scorch marks they leave behind, as one of His ways to separate us from our love affair with this world and focus our attention on His eternal perspective. It is not enough to know God’s ultimate purpose, we must also know Him.

Treasured by Him,

Sharon

Adapted from Treasures of Faith by Chuck and Sharon Betters.

LIFE-GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT

As you worship with your church family today, ask the Lord to open your heart to where you are depending on “bootstrappa” striving. Listen carefully to the words of the songs, the pastor’s sermon, the specific scripture in the message. God’s Word is living and in His love He calls us to remember He is our Rock, Rest, Rescue and Refuge (Psalm 62).


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Contact Sharon with comments or questions at dailytreasure@gmail.com.