When people say “God is in control,” my tendency is to think that means He will only let things happen that make Him happy. I mean, that’s what I’d do if I were in control. Wouldn’t you? Don’t we think of control as the ability to make things go the way that makes us happy?
But God’s not me, and when I think that way, I’m taking the “sovereignty of God” and projecting my attributes onto His character. And that’s when things get twisted. That’s when we question how a loving God could … ? That’s when we start to doubt His motives, towards us, towards the world.
His ways are higher than our ways. He is motivated by love. Period. Love does not always create happiness. I think we know this to be true —
- Have you ever had to tell someone a hard truth because the loving thing to do was to be honest even though it would cause pain?
- Have you ever felt the depth of love – a love that seems other-worldy – when you hear a true story of someone giving their life for another?
- Have you ever been in a relationship, so deep in love, that you are committed to it for love’s sake alone, even when it is pointedly difficult to continue or it is expressly making you unhappy?
Love is not motivated by happiness. It is motivated by love. That may seem redundant, but that’s only because it’s one of the only things in life that is both an action and a feeling, a commitment and a sentiment, a death and a life. Love the action is often initially motivated by love the feeling, and then upheld by love the commitment. It’s a complicated thing for us to understand, and yet it is profoundly simple. And God is love.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not always insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV)
We have such a temporal view. We see things happening this side of eternity and react like it’s all slipping through His fingers. Like He’s no longer in control.
But His control is and always has been motivated by love. To say He’s sovereign is not to say He’s happy about the pain, destruction, confusion, poverty and every other thing that disillusions and creates rifts between God and man. It is to say, His grand purpose in creating us all was love, and what He allows is not our domain, in this temporal state, to question.
He sees how it all connects. And in His goodness, He listens to our laments and our requests, our doubts and our fears. He always brings us back to love — too great for us to understand from our limited vantage point.
Lord, teach me to value the eternal above the temporal, to pray for miracles in the face of disappointment, to ask to see Your glory when it feels you are silent. May my faith become greater than telling You what’s what and expecting you to pick my solutions. Teach me to believe in Your goodness always, that it’s at work even in devastation and chaos, that it’s being poured out in ways the news doesn’t cover and my eyes won’t see. Teach me to live in Your Kingdom, even while I’m here on earth.