There’s something about uncertainty that gnaws at you. It’s the thousand “what ifs” that can so easily hijack the mind and spin you into an endless cycle of worry. Sometimes it feels like there’s a storm brewing of confusion and just wish desperately you knew where you were going. But in the midst of the storm, we have an anchor, something firm and steadfast upon which to stay our souls.
A few months ago, I was listening to this question and answer session by John Piper, and he outlined what he calls the “theology of suffering”: 1) that God is Sovereign, 2) that God is good, and 3) that He “withholds no good thing from them who walk uprightly” (Ps. 84:11). As simple as these three propositions sound, they would prove to be a lifeline for me in difficult times.
- God is Sovereign. How often do I forget that the God of Isaiah 40 — the God who sees the nations as a mere drop in the bucket, who stretches out the heavens, who numbers the immensity of the stars and knows them by name, who never faints or is weary — is the very God who holds me in His hand? Thus, every thing that reaches me has been planned from before the foundation of the world. There are no Plan B’s for God. And in light of His sovereignty, His other attributes are cause for great hope.
- He is all-powerful. “Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20).
- He is omniscient, knowing not only every complexity of our lives and situation but also all the contingencies of what would have happened had any one variable been different. He knows all this and has ordained our exact circumstances to be the most beneficial for His glory and our good! He “marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:26 – 27, NIV). In other words, God has each of us in the precise family, location, circumstances, and time in history to encourage us to seek Him!
- He is all-wise. “Shall not the judge of the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25). Not only will the end goal of His glory and our good come to pass in our lives, but the means to that end will also be in complete accord with His character.
- God is good. In light of God’s majestic sovereignty, His goodness is our anchor. In fact, in light who God is, anxiety is preposterous! Here is a God who has both infinite power and the right to do whatever He pleases. And He pleases good for His children because of His merciful character.
- No good thing with He withhold from those who walk uprightly. God’s sovereignty assures us that He has all power to ordain every detail of our lives, and His goodness guarantees not only that we will see the most possible good in our lives but also that He is sympathetic to our weaknesses (Ps. 103:13). Indeed, He promises that He delights to give good gifts to His children! Having already sacrificed His own Son for us, “how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).
Ultimately, it is God’s character and promises that I must come back to in times of uncertainty, even when all seems a blur and I can only plead with Him to remember His promises. And He will answer.
Jeremiah had to speak a similar reminder to his soul: “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD” (Lam. 3:22 – 26).
So often, the key is reminding myself of God’s goodness and promises. I’ve had the following quotes typed on the back screen of my computer recently:
“To believe God with or without evidence simply because He has spoken, to submit to God with or without understanding because he is both sovereign and good, and to worship God with or without reward because He is worthy delievers to the believer a peace that surpasses understanding and baffles unbelievers, instructs angels, and glorifies God.” – Layton Talbert
“I have sometimes thought, when I have heard about the fears of God’s people concerning the times in which we live, and what is going to become of them; surely they did not know that the King is in our midst, that the Lord is as a wall of fire all around us, and his glory is in our midst; for if they only knew that he is our Protector and Defender, they could not be so fearful as they are.” -– Charles Spurgeon
"Child of my love, lean hard,
And let me feel the pressure of they care,
I know thy burden, child; I shaped it,
Poised in Mine own hand, made no proportion
In its weight to thine unaided strength;
For even as I laid it on I said,
'I shall be near, and while she leans on Me,
This burden shall be Mine, not hers;
So shall I keep my child within my circling arms,
Of mine own love.' Here lay it down, nor fear
To impose it on a should which upholds
The government of worlds. Yet closer come,
Thou art not near enough; I would embrace thy care
So I might feel My child reposing on My breast.
Thou lovest Me? I know it. Doubt not, then,
But, loving Me, lean hard."
– Author unknown
From Green Leaf in Drought Time
The Lord is faithful, sisters. Let us plead His promises. He does hear.