God is in Control
A particularly beautiful and comforting doctrine for believers is the providential governance of God. This truth references that God is in complete control and is working all things according to His plan for His everlasting glory. Christ both has created and continues to hold all things together (Colossians 1:16-17). It is He who has the seat of complete authority over heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18-20). Even our great salvation was planned by the Holy Father before time ever began (Ephesians 1:3-4). In order to assert God is not in control over everything, we would have to discard the entire Bible itself! For it is a doctrine most plainly asserted in the text of Scripture!
However, the question for us as His people is to understand what it means for us to learn to rest in His good plan? How can we be content and find joy in Him when pain, suffering, and trials come our way? What must we glean from the Scripture in order to praise Him more in all moments both the hills and the valleys? We must realize that the Father who sent Christ to the cross to pay for our everlasting redemption according to His perfect plan is the same God who governs each and every second of our life according to His holy will. God predestined the cross, everything about the bloody crucifixion of Christ was according to His predetermined plan (Acts 2:28). Yet, in Scripture it is also said:
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” -Psalm 139:16
Every day of our life has already been planned by God, before we were even born. Understanding the providential plan of God brought Christ to the cross to redeem His people for the glory of His name should set our understanding of God’s sovereignty in stone. If He can use the most difficult, brutal, and yes even evil act in history, the crucifixion of the Divine Son for good, then He can use everything that happens in our life for our eternal good and His glory (Romans 8:28). It is that foundation which allows us to rest in His providential plan!
Understanding God’s Providence Fuels Active Obedience
A right understanding of God’s power and plan should lead us to serve Him with great fervor. However, if your understanding of the sovereignty of God leads you to be lazy then something is wrong with your viewpoint. The doctrine that it is God who elects unto everlasting life served as the fuel for the Apostle Paul in evangelism. 2 Timothy 2:10 says:
“Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” -2 Timothy 2:10
It is God’s sovereignty, the fact He is in control, He is working even redemption according to His plan, it is that reality which fuels our fire to proclaim the Gospel. Therefore, the reality of God being over all things should not cause in us a desire to simply sit in a lazy boy and eat bonbons or chips for the rest of our lives! No, it should give you a passion to know God and to be obedient to all His commands. The reality of His good plan should lead us to stand in amazement that we get to be tools used for His glory. He doesn’t have to use us as His servants, but He, in His grace, has chosen to. He could have chosen the rocks, but He chose us, sinful human beings whom he saves by His grace. Understanding that God according to God’s perfect plan, we get to be a part of His everlasting kingdom should prompt us to be more active, not less. That is one impact of a right understanding of God’s sovereignty. Yet another is the reality that we learn to rest content.
Charles Spurgeon once said:
“I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.” -Charles Spurgeon
Many times when the difficulties of life hit, we can stray away into panic, worry, anxiety, and fear. Certainly, if we lose a loved one it is good and healthy to grieve as Paul would have done had Epaphroditus lost his life (Philippians 2:25-27). Pain is real during the difficult seasons of life, but there is a difference between pain and anxiety. When trials come into life, we must see them as the waves pushing us against Christ the everlasting solid rock. That does not minimize the impact of the wave, it does not mean there is no pain when it crashes against your body. However, it does mean you see it as a gift of grace that somehow in eternity will have pushed you closer to God and will have worked out for your eternal good. This reality brings contentment and joy even in the midst of trial. Paul could go so far as to talk about it being “granted” to us to suffer for Christ’s sake (Philippians 1:29). We are commanded:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” -Philippians 4:4-6
This response is what rightly understanding God’s sovereign plan must enable in us. We walk in our lives petitioning the high throne of heaven by the seat of prayer. It is our blessing and privilege to come before Him because we trust in His plan. Fear, anxiety, and worry, they are driven away, replaced by complete trust in Him. Because whatever may befall us we can say that He does all things well! How do we learn to rest in His providence? We do so by understanding His ways are higher than ours, His thoughts are greater than our own, His wisdom is beyond what we can fathom, and His plan is more eternally beautiful than we can dream. In short, we understand the greatness of God and the finite nature of who we are in reality. This is how we rest at peace, and how we work with fervor, all for the sake of the name of Christ!