Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Trusting God’s Sovereignty When God Is Silent

“Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”
— Romans 9:18 (NIV)
When our lives are turned upside down we could be forgiven for wondering just how God can watch on, having seemed to have had a hand in designing our fate.  Does He not care as the Scriptures say He cares; we may ask?  Can’t He see how much we’re suffering?  Doesn’t He care that life seems hellish some, much, even most of the time?  What is possibly the point of this seemingly sadistic life?
If we trek back to ancient times, we could ask the same theological questions.  Why did God let the Hebrews suffer at the hands of Pharaoh so much, and for so long?  God saw fit to harden Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 9:16), and this only made life harder for Moses and the people.  Did He do this to punish Moses and the Israelites?  What was God’s purpose in using Pharaoh against those who were His covenant people?  Where is God’s mercy?
These all seem valid questions.
In Romans 9:1-29, the apostle Paul speaks of God’s sovereignty: “God rules and works according to His eternal purpose, even through events that seem to contradict or oppose His rule.”[1]  Paul states matter-of-factly, nobody has a right to question God about what He creates, ordains, and allows.  We rally against that saying, “If only God would love me” — well, He gave us breath and hope and life, didn’t He?  We always want more.  That’s the truth that God’s up against, and life just wouldn’t work if everyone got what they wanted because of some skewed idea that God is that kind of merciful God.  And still we’re cast against the wall of real trials that do seem so unfair at times.  Even when things are going well, we cannot know, definitively, God’s sovereign purpose, though we may think we know.
Let’s explore the enigma of God’s sovereignty:
God has plans we know nothing about,
Who are we with which to utter a doubt?
God will do just as He pleases,
If you want proof, look how He treated Jesus.
God has plans beyond our control,
We still have no idea what is His goal,
Yet we must trust Him to His Decree,
In eternity it’ll be, we’ll finally see.
God has plans that we can’t change,
Nothing we can do will cause Him to rearrange,
Why should we trust Him when this is so?
It’s because there’s no changing; He’s never our foe.
God has plans, and it’s because He’s king,
That as His subjects we can sing,
Not because of the hardships that we must bear,
But of the compassion within His eternal care.
God’s sovereignty is an enigma when we look at it through the lens of our human sensibility.  That’s why His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).  God is inscrutable.  Only when we accept this can we go on in our growth with, and toward God.
Then we might come to accept something really chastising:
How God Uses the Hardened Heart
God has set some people against us.  Some, for His purposes, are hard of heart.  Others are just loving us tough, when we need it, though it seems they’re hard of heart.  It’s difficult to know where God’s mercy starts and whom He hardens and why.  Only God can truly know.  Our role is simply to trust.
But we can know that He showers us with mercy as we bear up against those who seem to be acting as if their hearts have been hardened.  We may not experience His mercy via our perception, but His mercy is very real alright, and we shall know it when He gives us that crown of righteousness in heaven.  Yet have we not His mercy through the grace of a humble response in our suffering?  That’s a real mercy that can only be known through obedience.
What is most important is that we don’t harden our hearts.  God’s Word promises us trouble where we harden our hearts, for it is blessed rather to tremble before God (Proverbs 28:14).
God is “raising up” those who have or will harden their hearts against us.  He is doing this for our testing.  If we resist hardening our hearts, we will experience His mercy ultimately.  And God is showing us who are the trustworthy people in this life, in the midst of our lives, and few do they seem when the chips are down.
So this is worthy of our trust: to rely on God’s sovereignty by obeying God.
Only by faith can we please God by trusting His divine will and purpose in allowing Him to be Sovereign in our lives.
Let us be found worthy of God’s mercy, first by accepting Christ, then by accepting His way, day by day.
Show us Your mercy,
Lord, of our being,
Help us in the seeing,
To trust You, and be free.
That God is silent is a sign that He is Sovereign.  Trust Him in the silence and peace is yours.  There is no sensible option to not trusting God.
By faith there is hope.
By trust there is peace.
In weakness there is strength.
In acceptance there is restoration.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

[1] Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

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