Resting in the Hands of a Loving, Sovereign God

By | April 27, 2023

What do we do when we receive the phone call about cancer or health problems—problems of your own or that of a friend or family member? What about when your life is thrown upside down because of unexpected events? Or when you hear heartbreaking news about someone? Or when your day or week doesn’t go as planned, making it hard to recalibrate and function?

I’ve had some phone calls like that recently, and my family’s regular routine has been a bit jumbled for various reasons. In thinking about and responding to scary health news, heart breaks, and waylaid plans and routines, I’ve meditated on God’s sovereignty.

In Daniel 4:34–35, Nebuchadnezzar makes the following conclusion about God’s rule:

His dominion is an everlasting dominion,

and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;

all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,

and he does according to his will among the host of heaven

and among the inhabitants of the earth;

and none can stay his hand

or say to him, “What have you done?”

Is Nebuchadnezzar’s conclusion correct? Are we inhabitants of the earth accounted as nothing? Does God just do whatever according to his will? Can none of us stop him or question what he has done?

My thoughts moved next to Psalm 138:8:

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Nebuchadnezzar emphasizes the unquestionable nature of God’s sovereignty, and the Psalmist adds to it: The Lord fulfills His purpose for individuals, not as a careless Sovereign, but as a Sovereign with steadfast enduring love for us.

As I contemplated these passages, I was assured of their trustworthiness. I’ve experienced these truths to a degree in my own life, but what settled me most is seeing them played out in the Bible. The stories of the Old Testament in particular have grounded me firmly in God’s steadfast, loving endurance to his sovereign plan.

When I read the OT, I know the “end of the story,” i.e., Jesus’ incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, and future coming, along with all the teaching of the New Testament. Like re-watching a movie you’ve seen before and noticing how all the details work together and build up to the end, you can read the OT and see how God sovereignly works all the details to build up to His desired end.

God has done His will among all the inhabitants of the earth since day 1. Adam and Eve were created to have a relationship with God, but they chose to sin (cf. Gen 1–3). Because God is a God of enduring, steadfast love, He planned to send a sinless Savior. And He did that through the family of Abram, a former idol worshiper from Ur (cf. Josh 24:2) whom he specially chose to have a relationship with and bless (Gen 12:3).

God protected Abraham’s grandson Jacob and his family from starvation by sending Joseph before them to Egypt (cf. Gen 37ff.). They endured the 400 years of slavery that God guaranteed would happen, and the pagan nations in Canaan became more wicked (cf. Gen 15:13-16). God’s promise to Abraham to bring Israel out of Egypt was fulfilled through Abraham’s descendent Moses (cf. Exod 2–15). God eventually brought them to the land He had promised Abraham (Josh 3ff.). In giving Israel the promised land, God also used Israel to judge the Canaanite nations (cf. Gen 15:16) and did so under the leadership of Joshua, the judges, and some kings.

Just as God’s sovereignty works within the framework of his steadfast, enduring love, so it also works within the framework of his requirement for our obedience. Thus, many of the blessings on Abraham’s descendants were contingent on their obedience to his Law (cf. Deut 27–28). Many times throughout Israel’s time in the wilderness, their conquest of Canaan, the period of the judges, and the time of the kings, the Israelites disobeyed God. Yet even their sinful choices could not derail God’s plans.

Caleb, Joshua, Ruth, Hannah, Samuel, David, and others are shining examples of obedience and blessing. Their amazing stories point to God’s infinite wisdom and sovereignty in lovingly working out his redemptive plan for Israel and the world. But none of these stories occurred in a vacuum of trouble-free bliss. Each of these characters struggled with his or her own sins and the sins of others, sometimes with great obstacles to overcome, yet God faithfully continued to work out His plan for them as individuals and for Israel as a whole.

My current OT study is in 2 Samuel, so I will stop there at the moment with my summary of God’s loving sovereignty, but even this short overview is enough to concretely settle in my own heart and mind that God has a firm plan for individuals and nations.

None can stay His hand. None can question Him. He will accomplish his purpose for me. He will accomplish his purpose for you. We are the work of His loving hands. We can rest in them even when the whole world seems to be falling apart.

Image by skalekar1992 from Pixabay

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