From Kenny: Here’s Tim Price serving up another post; wrestling with God’s sovereignty in the midst of our suffering.
“God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass…” Westminster Confession of Faith 3.1
Around the time I first became a Christian I was faced with a lot of questions I had no idea how to answer. I was at a community college where I felt very alone in my faith. However, being a new Christian I was pretty fervent in my evangelism and did my best to engage with just about everyone. This one kid who claimed to be a Christian and I got into a conversation about the nature of God’s power.
He said, “I think that God is so powerful that he can go back and change the past.”
This was strange to me. I didn’t really know how to respond to him and so I let the conversation fall, but I kept thinking about it and later it seemed obvious to me, “Why wouldn’t God have just gotten it right the first time if He is so powerful?”
If you believe the Bible, then you believe that He did get it right the first time. One of the Scriptures the Westminster Confession uses to back this up is Eph 1:11, “…being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His will.”
This and many other places in the Bible assure us that God has been in complete control since eternity. As confusing as the phrase “since eternity” can be, we believe somehow within the context of eternity God has ordained everything that is, was, and is to be.
This isn’t just some vague philosophical or theological statement. It’s all over the Bible, and I think it’s here, at least partially, for us and our comfort. How rarely do we see Jesus as the King of the Universe? Well, He is. He is also the intimate loving servant who comforts us in our trials. But in my opinion, it seems faulty, or at least insufficient to think of Jesus as only the lowly servant.
He also orders our lives (including every seemingly terrible thing in them) for His glory and our good. I turn to this King when terror strikes me because He not only knows, but truly understands my terror. He understands it because He experienced ultimate rejection and terror himself on the cross for my sins. I think three very important things should be held here.
- Jesus is the Author and Sustainer of everything in the universe, including our suffering.
- Jesus loves sinners like us, and proved it by entering into our suffering on the cross.
- Jesus alone can truly understand and sympathize with us in our suffering.
The truth is that whatever else we turn to will inevitably let us down, because whatever that thing is, it didn’t authorize our suffering, and it doesn’t sympathize with us.