When I was growing up, there was a game released in 2000 called The Sims. The objective was to build a home and support a family. At the beginning, you first create your family. From there, your family is placed on a plot of land and as the player, you are to create their house. Once the house is built, you then furnish the home with all they’ll need.
As the family begins to live their lives, you are able to see each of their individual needs and point them in certain directions to help get their needs met. For example, if you see that one of the family members is hungry, you can click on their fridge and suggest that they eat something. Or perhaps they have a socialization need; you can click on the phone and they can call a friend.
As I played this game as a child, I would at times wonder if this is how God cares for his people. He knows when I’m hungry so he directs me to the kitchen. He knows I’ve felt lonely so he has me reach out to a friend. Whatever it might be.
Is that how God displays his sovereignty? Well, let’s take a look.
What is Sovereignty?
Wayne Grudeum, the author of Systematic Theology, defines sovereignty as God’s exercise of rule (as “sovereign” or “king”) over his creation. What does that mean? Well, similar to how Queen Elizabeth is sovereign over the Commonwealth, God is sovereign, ruler, or King over all he has created.
From the first few pages of scripture, we learn that God is creator over all things. He, by his rule and authority, caused the earth to be formed out of nothing, And through him and in him all things have been created. This impacts us on both a cosmic level and a personal level.
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he writes:
16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
In Nehemiah 9:6 we read:
You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
We don’t have to question whether the sun is going to rise each day or whether the molecules in our body plan to do what they were created to do. God is sovereign and ruling over each one of those things. We can trust that he’s taken care of it.
What does this mean on a personal level? Let’s start with some scripture.
King David in the Psalms 139:16 writes, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way,but the Lord establishes his steps.”
How often are we trying to have “rule” or control over our life? Oftentimes we desire control over our health, whether it be a diagnosis of ourselves or a loved one. Or perhaps we desire control over our relationships. This could play out when having a timeline on when you hope to get married or have a family, or you could be experiencing friendship transitions based on seasons of life. In those moments, it’s easy for us to want to reign over those situations. I know I’ve felt prey to wanting to control both things mentioned above.
Right now, where I can tend to desire control is wanting my daughter to come to know the Lord. Each night when I put her to bed, I will pray out loud for her while she drinks her bottle. I pray for many different areas of her life and also pray that she comes to know Jesus as savior and Lord. One night while I was praying that, I said, Lord do whatever it takes for her to know you. And then I sat that and got tears in my eyes and the thought of what that could be. She could come to know him through Hope or through our conversations with her or she may have to experience a loss or something hard in this world that would draw her back to him. I have no clue what she’ll face, but God knows. All her days have been ordained before her and with that, I can trust him (even though it’s not always easy).
What’s at stake?
So what’s at stake if God weren’t sovereign. Well, we’d be in control. And as much as we think it’d be awesome, our sinful nature would drive us to do crazy things. We would choose to do things that bring us comfort, joy, or pleasure. We’d be selfish in our rule and reign.
It could also be viewed another way. When we experience a tragedy or a hard event in our lives, most of us are left feeling helpless, perhaps hopeless and feel at a loss of what to do. When those moments hit, we can feel worried about the outcome and want to assert control. If all our days have been ordained before him, God knew it was going to happen. And as hard as it can be to hold on to that truth, we can trust that he is for us and working for our good and his glory to bring us closer to him.
Tim Keller says, “If we knew what God knows, we would ask exactly for what he gives.” In those moments, we can trust he is working for our good and his glory and that he has our absolute best in mind.
So why is his sovereignty a good thing?
Now think about it, what did God choose to do with his sovereignty?
He redeemed us.
He used his exercise of rule, his right and power to redeem us and bring us back into relationship with him through sending his son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He is using his sovereignty for our good and his glory.
John Calvin says it this way…
It’s the most blessed thing to be subject to the sovereignty of God.