It’s probably the most powerful prayer I can remember.
My father-in-law was in the hospital, suffering from an advanced case of bone cancer. It was hard to be in the room knowing the severe pain he was experiencing. But as we were leaving, Bert asked to pray. He said three things to the Lord:
First, he thanked God for being good in all circumstances, even when it didn’t match our definition of good. Second, he asked God to help him be a good example to others during his suffering. Finally, he thanked God for the rich life of blessings he had been given.
I was blown away. This was a man who did not go to seminary. He couldn’t communicate the theology that I thought I had mastered so well. But in that moment, he revealed a deeper and richer understanding of the sovereignty of God than I ever had.
It seemed that Bert had every right to complain, but he was joyful. He could have asked others to serve him, but he asked God to help him serve others.
Bert didn’t question God and ask “Why me?” He didn’t bring God into the court of his judgement and say, “Is this what I get after a lifetime of serving you?”
No, my father-in-law’s words were edifying. His tongue was pure. His vocabulary was God-honoring. Why? Because the sovereignty of God ruled in his heart, and out of the abundance of his heart his mouth spoke (Luke 6:45).
I am deeply persuaded that the primary reason we complain, grumble, and accuse is because the sovereignty of God doesn’t rule in our heart.
When people frustrate us, when our plans are thwarted, and when suffering enters our door, our lips dispense words laced with anger, bitterness, envy, doubt, confusion, and fear. All of these emotions are given room to grow when there is a void of rich understanding and belief in the sovereignty of God.
We have forgotten that God’s dominion is an eternal dominion and he does as he pleases (Daniel 4:34-35). We don’t remind ourselves that his judgements are unsearchable and his ways inscrutable (Romans 11:33). We have neglected to meditate on the truths that God rules over the specific details of our lives for his glory and our good (Acts 17:26-27, Ephesians 1:4-6, 20-22 and many more).
It’s easy for us to proclaim these truths during a Sunday worship service, but at street level, does the sovereignty of God really have deep roots in your heart?
That moment in the hospital was God’s revealing grace to me. He was not rejecting me or condemning me for weak theology, but rather opening my eyes, softening my heart, and wooing my soul to trust in him more.
As you reflect on the questions below, may our Lord do the same with you today!
- Do your words from last week reveal that you are resting in God's plan or wrestling with it?
- Does your communication with others reveal a frustration or joy with whom God has sovereignly placed in your life?
- How did you employ words last month in an attempt to seize control over your life?
- How has God revealed his sovereignty to you in the past? What previous acts should you meditate on?