[Guest post from Pastoral Intern Drew Humphrey]
When was the last time you complained about the weather? The last time you were agitated by heavy traffic? The last time you reacted angrily to a costly home or vehicle repair? The last time you grumbled about a child who decided to wake up at three o’clock in the morning—and stay awake? The last time you found yourself exasperated by a stomach bug that knocked you off your feet during the busiest week of the year?
If you’re like me, you don’t have to dig very deep in the memory bank to come up with answers to these questions. In fact, I’d measure most of my answers in units of hours and days rather than months or years. When it comes to petty little annoyances, I guess you could say I’m a pathological whiner.
We all face inconvenient hassles, unexpected setbacks, and ill-timed crises. That’s the unavoidable reality of life as a human being on this earth. Things break. Coffee spills. Kids cry. Spring weather in Indiana is bizarre.
Unfortunately, I’m not very good at responding to these things when they come my way. My default response to these little annoyances is often one of anger, frustration, or bitterness. And the problem with that response is not merely that it leaves me looking grumpy or muttering uncouth words. The problem with that response is that it puts me functionally at odds with one of the biblical doctrines that I claim to hold dear: the doctrine of God’s complete sovereignty.
Over and over again, the Bible affirms that God is both the architect and orchestrator of every single detail in the universe. He is sovereign over everything from coin tosses (Prov. 16:33) to the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1). He controls every aspect of nature—cloud formations, vegetation growth, the passing of seasons, and sunrises (Ps. 104). He’s in charge of bad days as much as he’s in charge of good days (Eccles. 7:14). All things are worked out according to the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11), and nothing happens unless he commands it (Lam. 3:37-38).
When I’m sitting in a comfortable chair or teaching in a church classroom or having a theological discussion over a delicious burger from Five Guys, I can make much of God’s sovereignty. I can tell you that it’s not just a biblical truth—it’s a beautiful truth. I can exult in the fact that the wisest, strongest, and most benevolent Being in all of the universe is completely in charge of all things!
But give me a snowstorm in late March and you’ll hear a different tune. Put a car in front of me on the highway that’s going too slow, and I doubt you’ll hear me celebrating the exhaustive and meticulous governance of the Almighty God. Commission my daughter to get a whole swarm of teeth forcing their way out of her tender little gums all at once, and—well, you get the idea.
Here’s the point: it’s in these seemingly insignificant moments of life’s minor inconveniences that you and I find out what we truly believe about God’s sovereignty.
If you can wax eloquent about the wonders of divine sovereignty during a Bible study, then praise God. But if you’d quickly become less enthused about the subject upon leaving the Bible study and discovering that your car won’t start, then join me in asking for God to teach us how to celebrate his sovereignty, even when it’s inconvenient.