Sovereign and Good
We have all experienced that inner voice in moments of anxiety or insecurity. It manifests itself in questions like this: “What if I’m not good enough? What if they’ll say no? What if I get rejected? What if I mess up? What if I can’t make enough money? What if I never get married? What if I embarrass myself? What if it will hurt too badly? What if…” Undoubtedly you noticed the pattern with all of those questions. They all began with two simple, but troublesome, words: “what if.”
There’s a big problem with these little words, and I think I can put it as simply as this: it’s bad theology. Our anxieties about what the future may hold are a sign that we haven’t come to terms with who exactly God is and what He’s all about. Because as we read God’s Word and discover Who He is what do we learn? Well, we learn so much, but in terms of what we’re discussing I want to focus on two things: 1) God is sovereign 2) God is good. These two go hand-in-hand; you cannot have one without the other. Consider these three verses:
Psalm 135:6, “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.” Psalm 115:3, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Isaiah 46:9-10, “I am God and there is none like me; declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.”
These passages teach us not only that God controls all things, but that He does so in such a way that is in accordance with His pleasure. This is a comfort for us because we are told elsewhere in Scripture that what pleases God: doing what is good for us! If God has sovereign power that doesn’t necessarily help us—He could sovereignly determine to destroy us! But in all of God’s sovereignty is actually the proof of His goodness. He does what is good for His people and for His glory. A sovereign God who is not good is a terror. A good God who is not sovereign is an idol. So Romans 8:28 tells us that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
What we are being told here in Romans 8:28 is really radical, and has the utmost significance in terms of our many fears. Read what John Piper says about it:
If you live inside this massive promise, your life is more solid and stable than Mount Everest. Nothing can blow you over when you are inside the walls of Romans 8:28. Outside of Romans 8:28 all is confusion and anxiety and fear and uncertainty. Outside this promise of all-encompassing future grace there are straw houses of drugs and alcohol and numbing TV and dozens of futile diversions. There are slat walls and tin roofs of fragile investment strategies and fleeting insurance coverage and trivial retirement plans. There are cardboard fortifications of deadbolt locks and alarm systems and antiballistic missiles. Outside are a thousand substitutes for Romans 8:28. But once you walk through the door of love into the massive unshakable structure of Romans 8:28 everything changes. There come into your life stability and depth and freedom. You simply can’t be blown over anymore. The confidence that a sovereign God governs for your good all the pain and all the pleasure that you will ever experience is an incompatible refuge and security and hope and power in your life.
Here’s what we need to understand: any fear of the future is always a fear of God’s best for you. We don’t know what the future will hold, except that it will be for our eternal good. So to be anxious about tomorrow is really to say, “I wish I had the control because I think I could do better than God’s best.” So I need to constantly be telling myself that if all things work together for my good, then there is no reason to fear. Fear of the future is simply fear of God’s best for me.