I recently commented to a friend that if there is one thing I’ve learned this year, it is the importance of holding all my plans loosely.
So loose, it’s like I’m not holding them at all.
When the year began, we all had plans and expectations for the year. We moved forward with those plans until a virus was placed in our path and life suddenly slammed on the brakes, upending everything. It was jarring and we still haven’t recovered. Everything’s been upside down ever since. We’ve experienced significant changes in our jobs, our children’s education, our worship, and even to the way we relate with others. We’ve learned not to make plans and if we do, to hold them with open hands.
For many, 2020 feels like a year of interruptions. Of upended plans. Of starts and stops. Of constant change.
At least that’s been my experience.
One recent afternoon, both my husband and I were headed in different directions—one to pick up a child up from school, the other to take a child to their game. And then my husband fell and broke his foot. All our plans skidded to a screeching halt. We’ve since had to reorient our lives around this accident. It’s been a significant interruption. And sometimes, I just want the year to move on and finish in the hopes that maybe next year will be better.
As believers, when life’s interruptions cut into our carefully-laid plans, we know they are not random. They aren’t simply the result of bad luck. They are divinely placed in our life by our sovereign God. “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Is. 45:7). Our God is not a distant God; He rules over all he has made, from the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1) to the number of hairs on our head (Matt. 10:30). He determines the course of history and all he wills comes to pass. “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’” (Is. 46:9–10).
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is one I’ve turned to many times in my life. When life is hard and I face hardship and suffering and trials, I remind myself, “God is not surprised by this.” While the interruptions of life catch me off guard, God is never surprised by them. He not only knows all that will take place, he ordained all things and ensures that his will comes to pass.
Including the year 2020.
While Christians may mentally assent to the Bible’s teaching on God’s sovereign rule, they may have difficulty trusting in his rule. God’s sovereignty isn’t necessarily a comfort they find rest in. This happens when we look at God’s sovereignty in isolation from his other characteristics. It is important to remember that God’s sovereignty doesn’t exist in isolation; it is fundamentally linked with who he is in the entirety of his character. When we remember that God is holy and righteous—that all he does is perfect, good, and right—then we know he will govern and rule out of his righteousness. When we remember that God loved us in Christ before the foundation of the world and adopted us to be his own, we know that the circumstances he brings into our lives are ordered out of that love.
Because God is both sovereign and good.
God is perfect and wholly good; he is incapable of doing anything that is not good. This means all his ways are good. From the world he created to his acts in history, from his perfect plan for our lives to his kindness poured out on us in Christ—all that he does is good. “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
James tells us that all good things come from God. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17). In spiritual terms, darkness implies evil and there is no darkness in God—he is the Father of lights. He is the source of all goodness and everything he gives us is good and for our good. This verse also tells us that God never changes; there is no “variation or shadow of turning.” Our God will never show goodness toward us and then change his mind; he is always good toward us.
When we face interruptions in our life— whether it’s a small one like a fender bender on the way to work or a big one like a world-wide virus—we have to remember that God is both sovereign and good. While the difficult circumstances we face in life are not good, we have a good God who rules over them all. Though we do not understand what is happening and why, we can take comfort that he does. We can trust that all he ordains for us is for our good (Rom. 8:28).
Even when life is interrupted, we can expect good things from our good and sovereign God.
Want to learn more about God and his character? Check out my next book: A Holy Fear: Trading Lesser Fears for the Fear of the Lord.
Originally posted here.