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Editor’s Note: Several months ago, my husband and I attended a briefing given by a high-ranking Navy chaplain to a group of local pastors. He told them, “The best thing you can do for a military family attending your church is to preach the truth of God—especially the sovereignty of God.” Jocelyn Green has given us permission to post this devotional, from Faith Deployed, which she has written on the sovereignty of God. We pray that it will be an encouragement to you.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. —Isaiah 55:8
On September 11,2001, Navy wife Deshua Joyce tried to think positively when she heard the news that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon, where her husband worked. She thought, “What are the chances that his office was hit?” Still, her heart was heavy with concern for her husband Tom and all others at the Pentagon.
In fact, the plane crashed through the building directly under his floor, completely destroying Tom’s office. Miraculously, he escaped unscathed and was able to notify Deshua of his safety within an hour. Deshua’s gratitude for Tom’s escape was tempered with grief for those who did not. “I remember thinking at the end of the day, ‘People’s lives are changed forever,’” she says. “I was devastated for the loved ones of those who never made it out.”
When Tom reunited with his family after the attack, he read Psalm 91 with his family, which seemed to be written just for him. His oldest son asked, “What are you going to do with the rest of your life that God spared today?” After Tom retired from the military, he became a pastor.
While many lives that could have been lost on that fateful day were preserved, we know the rest of the story. We remember the news broadcasts and the newspaper headlines. If you walked through Ground Zero, you saw all the photos pinned up by friends and family. Ready or not, 2,973 souls were sent to eternity that day.
On that day, and every day, how does God choose which lives to safeguard and which to call into the next life? I don’t know the answer. I’m sure no one does. The larger question is this: Is God trustworthy? Can we trust Him to be in control of every moment in every part of the globe? If we say yes, we admit that He presides over tragedy. If we say we cannot trust Him in all things, we cannot trust Him at all. If He is not all-powerful, He is not God.
God refers to Himself as “Sovereign Lord” 303 times in the Bible. Jerry Bridges notes in Trusting God:
The sovereignty of God is asserted, either expressly or implicitly, on almost every page of the Bible. Rather than being offended over the Bible’s assertion of God’s sovereignty in both good and calamity, believers should be comforted by it. Whatever our particular calamity or adversity may be, we may be sure that our Father has a loving purpose in it. As King Hezekiah said, “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish” (Isaiah 38:17). God does not exercise His sovereignty capriciously, but only in such a way as His infinite love deems best for us.
God’s sovereignty is also exercised in infinite wisdom, far beyond our ability to comprehend. God’s plan and His ways of working out His plan are frequently beyond our ability to fathom and understand. We must learn to trust when we don’t understand.
When we can’t figure out God’s plan for our lives or for those around us, we must rest in His sovereignty instead.
Pray: Lord, When I am tempted to believe that You are only a good God if Your plan matches up with mine, remind me that Your thoughts, Your ways, are higher than mine. When I don’t understand what You are doing, help me dwell instead on who You are. Help me to lean not on my own understanding but to trust You with all my heart (Proverbs 3:5,6). Amen.
Questions to Share:
1. Does your belief in God’s sovereignty rely on your circumstances or on what the Bible tells of God’s character?
2. Share an example with each other of something that happened in your life which you did not understand at the time but later you could see how God used it in your life for good.
Jocelyn Green is an award-winning freelance writer and author of Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (http://www.faithdeployed.com/), from which this devotional was reposted with permission from Moody Publishers. She is also the co-author of Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan. She and her husband Rob live with their two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa.