The word “sovereign” can be either an adjective or a noun.
As a noun, a “sovereign” is a a person who has supreme power or authority. As an adjective, the word is used to describe someone with supreme rank, power, or authority. And while we might use either form to describe an earthly ruler, we know that using the word like that has some inherent qualifications.
For example, to use the word in reference to, say, the British monarchy, implies great power and authority. And yet even in such a case we know there is a limited sense to that sovereignty. King Charles, the British sovereign monarch, cannot control how much rain falls on London.
That’s important to understand because when we call God “sovereign” we mean something similar, but different, than when we use that word in another context. And that’s because there are no limitations to God’s sovereignty. Rather, God’s sovereignty is the exercise of His power of His creation.
The weather? The orchestration of world events? The flight patterns of birds? Yes, and more:
“In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water
that he channels toward all who please him” (Prov. 21:1).
It’s true, then to say that God is sovereign over all earthly sovereigns. Job sums up this truth well in Job 42:2:
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
That might be a terrifying truth for you. To know that there is a God who is directing all things to His ultimate ends. It might make you feel ridiculously small and feeble and weak… and it really should. But it’s only terrifying when it’s not blended with the truth of who this God is who is sovereign over all things.
If God were isolated from us – if He were uncaring and unmoved – if He were dispassionate and unconcerned about His people – then yes, we have every reason to be terrified. But that’s not true, and the reason it’s not true is because we have seen what God has done for us. He has sent His Son to die in our stead; He has loved us with the full extent of His love. And now He promises us that His sovereignty is fully employed for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).
But even then, the truth of God’s sovereignty can be a difficult one to love, especially when you are walking through a season that feels anything but loving, and anything but in control. When you sit in the hospital room or face down an uncertain future or pray for a child who is wandering… these are the really hard and painful moments of God’s sovereignty. It’s in these moments when “trust” is hard work; it’s a conscious choice in the moment to believe that God is not only in control but working for good. It’s very hard to believe in God’s sovereignty, much less love God’s sovereignty. But we do have an ally in loving this good doctrine:
Our greatest ally in loving the sovereignty of God is time.
There are moments for all of us when it feels like we are in the soup. When confusion and darkness seems to reign. When we exist in a fog, just trying to put one foot in front of the other, and when we cannot imagine how anything redemptive will ever come from what we are experiencing. And then time passes.
Time passes, and we look back, and from the benefit of a future vantage point, we can see things we were blind to in the moment. We get a slight glimpse of what possible good could come from something that felt, at the time, so bad. And from that vantage point, we would never look back at the disease or evil or pain we experienced and call that “thing” good in and of itself, but we might, by God’s grace, be able to see that time and time again God took what was evil and painful and trying and brought good from it.
So, friends, if you’re in the middle of a season in which you don’t love the sovereignty of God, don’t despair. Give yourself some grace. Believe that time is a good thing for perspective. And in the meantime, just keep hanging on.