God is above all and reigns over all. He is in control and ultimately has a plan for everything that happens. God is sovereign.
We love that our God is sovereign. We love to remind ourselves and others that God is sovereign. We sing praise songs about his sovereignty, we quote passages of scripture and read books that talk about God’s sovereignty. We love to live in the protection and safety of the truth that God is sovereign over everything…
…that is, until his sovereignty allows things to happen in our life that we don’t like or didn’t expect. When life goes crazy and we are thrown into extremely difficult or somewhat explainable situations, we begin to question what God is doing and why he is allowing these things. It becomes very easy to wonder if God is not as in control as we had believed, whether his plan is as good as we once trusted it to be, if he has somehow “missed something” in our life, or if he has possibly “forgotten” about us to some degree.
God is sovereign, and we often have a love/hate relationship with his sovereignty. We love it when things are going well and life is good, and we hate it when life is beating us up and it’s a struggle just to make it from day to day. I certainly know that I have struggled with having a love/hate relationship with God’s sovereignty in my life.
It is easy to see and acknowledge that God is sovereign and even praise him because of his sovereignty when I like how my life is going…but it can be incredibly difficult to see and acknowledge that God is sovereign, let alone praise him because of his sovereignty, when I don’t like how my life is going. It shows how fickle I can be as a human, and while I don’t like to admit it, I have to because it’s the truth.
We all have struggled or at some point will struggle with this at some point in our life…because we are all fickle as humans.
So what can we do when we are struggling to make sure we are continuing to see, acknowledge, and praise God for his sovereignty? What can help us so that we don’t allow ourselves to struggle and question and even possibly wander from God when things are not to our liking?
Here are some ways that God has been working on my heart concerning this very thing; 3 things that have helped me remember to keep seeing, acknowledging, and even praising God because he is sovereign, even in the midst of extreme difficulty.
1 – Praise God for who he is, no matter my life’s circumstances
“God is good, all the time; and all the time, God is good”
That’s a phrase you might have heard said in church a time or two, especially if you’ve been to a more traditional church. I know that phrase quite well. Question is, do we believe it? Do I?
Can I still say that God is good when the bottom drops out of my life? Do I still believe God is good when it seems as though only bad is happening? Am I willing to acknowledge the goodness of God in the midst of pain and heartache?
God is still God no matter what happens in my life. He is still the creator of all things, he is still a God who loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus to die for our sins so he could offer us salvation from the penalty of our sins, he is still the God who has continued to pursue us no matter how much we might walk away from him, and he is still the God who gives us peace even in the midst of great turmoil.
Even if we experience great turmoil for the rest of our lives and things are always difficult from our perspective, we can still praise him for being our creator, savior, and sustainer. So praise him, even when life is terrible and all is falling apart…because he deserves it.
2 – Change the perspective in which I see my life
Joseph. Job. Moses. Paul. Hosea. Elijah. David. Josiah.
We love to read stories from the Bible about these great men of God, and see how they remained faithful to God despite the difficult circumstances they dealt with. The problem however, is that we can see the whole story when we read about these men. We see the end of the story for Joseph, for example, so we know that God used his difficult situations for something so much greater than just what he was doing in Joseph’s life. God was working on Joseph’s life while also working through his circumstances to affect the entire future nation of Israel.
But Joseph didn’t know what God was up to. He had no idea a future nation was in the works through his being thrown into a pit, sold as a slave, separated from his family, wrongfully accused and imprisoned for 2 years. Yet he kept his focus on God, and had a perspective that was greater than just about himself. That’s why he could tell his brothers many years later “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen 50:20).
When difficulties happen, do I focus on just myself and my own discomfort? Or am I willing to change my perspective and realize God has a plan I can’t fully understand with my limited mind, and that he is working to accomplish so much more than I can even begin to realize? If I am willing to have that kind of a perspective, my own suffering is minimized and God’s plan is maximized…and isn’t that how it is supposed to be?
When we change the perspective in which we see our life, we are able to do what Joseph did; stay focused on God and realize that even the evil that is happening now is being used for good under God’s control. Suddenly it’s not about ourselves at all, but rather about God and his sovereign plan…and that is where our perspectives should be.
3 – Develop a closer relationship with God
It can be easy to want to give up on our relationship with God when he allows difficulty in our lives. As I said earlier, we are fickle. We as humans have a tendency to run away from God when he allows things we don’t like to happen to us.
But, when we choose to run toward God in those times, the blessings that result are SO AMAZING that it makes us wonder why we’d ever consider running away from him. And I don’t mean blessings like him giving us money or possessions, but rather the blessing of feeling so close to the creator of this world, the blessing of understanding a little bit more of God’s love and grace, and the blessing of peace that he gives to us in the midst of great pain…those are greater blessings that any amount of stuff he can give us.
Pray. Read God’s Word. Meditate on scripture. Seek God’s wisdom and guidance. Communicate with God. Allow God’s peace to overwhelm you. Love God and dive deeper into his love for you.
Don’t come up with excuses like you are too busy to spend time with God in difficult times, make it a point to give him more time than usual in those moments. Run into God’s arms, and get to know him in ways you never have before.
I’ll end by sharing a couple verses that sums up these three things…
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)
I life up my eyes…look up to God, focus on him, and praise him.
My help comes from the Lord…develop a relationship with him and allow him to be your helper.
Who made heaven and earth…realize he is God and you’re not, he is doing more than you can ever know or be aware of in the moment.