I had the privilege of teaching for another local church this week. New Branch Community Church is hosting a weekly summer discipleship program for their Students. Kevin Sanders, who is the Associate Pastor there, was gracious enough to invite me to come and teach, assigning me the topic “God’s Love and Sovereignty”. I immediately thought about how God’s love and sovereignty bring great comfort to us when we experience suffering. One of the most helpful books I have found on this subject is by Jerry Bridges entitled, Is God Really in Control. The reason I have found it helpful is because it is both comprehensive and concise, keeping it simple to read and understand. Bridges maintains that God is absolutely trustworthy because He is completely sovereign, infinite in wisdom, and perfect in love. This is the basic outline of the whole book. Bridges gives a summary statement of these three truths that is incredibly encouraging. Bridges wrote; “God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about.” This is a full statement; maybe it will be helpful for me to unpack it using an example from my life.
Brandon (my wife) and I love our children Micah, Norah, and Jonah (still in the womb). In our love for our kids we desire the absolute best for them. The highest and greatest good we want for them, is that they come to faith in Christ…to be reconciled to God (1 Peter 3:18). However, we often lack wisdom, and we don’t always know how to best point them to the Gospel in daily life and discipline. Weekly we have conversations about how we can best point each child toward the cross. In these conversations we often talk about our failures[i] and frustrations of not knowing what is actually best. Honestly, part of our frustrations are probably rooted in the fact that we don’t have the power to save our kids…only God can save through the Gospel (Romans 1:16). What I am saying is this, I don’t have perfect love, infinite wisdom and complete sovereignty; but God does. This is where these truths become comforting and empowering. God in His love, wisdom and sovereignty has given us these beautiful children. He has a plan and knows exactly what He is doing. God’s sovereignty doesn’t excuse us from disciplining our kids and preaching the Gospel to them (Ephesians 6:4), it actually encourages us to! (Bridges has an excellent chapter in his book on God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.) These truths also encourage us to pray for our kids. I can trust God because of His love, wisdom and power! God loves my family and wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about.
I have only given you one example from my life of how these three truths about God bring great comfort. However, these truths apply to every area of our lives. God, in His love, wisdom, and power, is working for the good in our lives (Romans 8:28). This doesn’t mean that we don’t experience pain, that we don’t make mistakes (sinning against others) and aren’t sinned against. It does mean that God loves you enough not to abandon you and He wants what is best for you (to experience joy in glorifying Him). In His wisdom, He knows how to redeem our sins and the sins of those who hurt us, bringing about good.[ii] In His sovereignty, He has the power to do what He wants and knows is best.
I am only scratching at the surface here and I know many questions may arise. If you want to go deeper, I would encourage you to read Bridges’ book, it is full of Scripture references and will get you off to a good start. Study God’s Word and be encouraged!