The most profound thing I took away from counseling four years ago was an assignment I thought was stupid.
Elijah was almost a year old, and I was still fumbling through motherhood, unable to shake off postpartum depression. I began seeing a counselor, and one of the earliest assignments he gave me was to read a book by Jerry Bridges called Is God Really in Control?
I was polite, but inwardly I rolled my eyes. Come on. What does this have to do with anything? Of course I know God is really in control. That is not the problem! I was exasperated that the counselor wasn't getting it, frustrated that the assignment seemed irrelevant to my struggles.
Well, God loves to strike blows to my pride like that. Wouldn't you know, that book and the main concepts I took away from it are what still stick with me more than anything else. I refer to that lesson in conversations probably at least a couple of times a month.
While I already believed that God was sovereign--100% in control of all events--what I didn't realize was that His sovereignty is essentially tied to His wisdom and His love. We need all three of these in order to be able to trust Him. Any one by itself--even any two, without the third--isn't actually good news at all.
Think about it: If God is in control of all things--if He's omnipotent and has all authority to do whatever He pleases--but you're His enemy, that's definitely not good news. He's sovereign, but He hates you? Hardly comforting.
If He's sovereign *and* He loves you, now we're getting somewhere. He can do all things, and He's good. He cares about your well-being. But what if He's not also all-knowing and wise? It doesn't really help you if He wants what's best for you and is totally capable of accomplishing it...but doesn't truly know what that is.
Loving + wise, but not sovereign? A God whose hands are tied. He knows what would be good for you, and He wants to bring good to you, but that doesn't mean much, because He's impotent.
Sovereign + wise, but not loving? A God who is unsympathetic, indifferent, willing to sacrifice your best for "the greater good." He knows what's best for you, but He doesn't really care if you get it or not. He can and will do what He wants, without regard for what's good for you.
We need all three. And we have all three!
Our God is sovereign. His purposes stand (Prov. 19:21). What He desires, He does (Job 23:13). He finishes what He starts, always (Phil. 1:6). He cannot be thwarted. "Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases" (Psalm 115:3). He is wholly capable of accomplishing what is best for us.
Our God is loving. His dealings with His children--with those who trust in Christ and find redemption at the cross--are marked by mercy and kindness, never wrath (Ps. 103:8-13). He is committed to our good (Rom. 8:28). He is FOR us (Rom. 8:31)! He wholeheartedly wants to do what's best for us.
Our God is wise. He established the world by His wisdom (Jer. 10:12). He is the source of all wisdom and understanding we possess (Prov. 2:6). His thoughts and ways far higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9); His judgments are unsearchable, beyond our judging (Rom. 11:33-34). He knows perfectly what is best for us.
And the place where we see these things come together perfectly, most clearly and gloriously on display? The cross of Christ.
No one took Jesus' life from Him; no one could have harmed a single hair on His head if He had not willingly submitted. He had authority to lay His life down and then to take it back up again (John 10:17-18). And the fact that He did so is a profound demonstration of His love (John 3:16). Paul lays it out in Romans 8:32: If God was willing to sacrifice His own Beloved Son to provide for our greatest need--what more evidence can we want that He is committed to what's best for us and will provide for every lesser need? And from our human perspective, the cross looks strange and foolish, but it is we who are too foolish to recognize God's true wisdom (1 Cor. 1:18-25).
Sovereignty, wisdom, love. Take any of these away, and your trust is shaken, your refuge vulnerable. But take them together, in light of the cross, and you see a God who knows best, who wants what's best, and who can do it! This is who is in control, whom we worship and serve and trust.
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