Suppose you were abused as a child and it has borne sad fruit for many years. Some uncle sexually abused you, or a dad. And somebody is trying to help you, counsel you, and work through the implications of that. And somebody asks you, Do you think that was the will of God?
I don’t know how you would have answered before, but I have tried to give you a structure of biblical thought to know how to answer that question in a way that not only corresponds with the reality of biblical truth, but with the deep needs of your soul. One need is to believe God hates what happened there. And when he was looking at the abuser he was saying, “Don’t do that! That is contrary to my will. I command you not to do that!” God hates what he sees and will approve of judgment. You need to believe that God is right there disapproving.
Secondly, you need to believe that God is sovereign, so sovereign, over that moment that he can turn everything for your glorious and everlasting good. And if you try to solve the problem of God’s sovereignty at the moment of crisis and push him so far out of that moment of causality — so far to the edges — you know what is going to happen? You will now be left with no God to help you deal with this and turn it good.
“God is so sovereign that he can turn everything for your everlasting, glorious good.”
He will be useless. You have just shoved him off into a realm where he can’t have anything to do with what happened. His will couldn’t be involved in it. His governance of the universe cannot oversee it, if you cannot have a God who in any way would ordain that it come to pass. And in your pain, you shoved him so far to the edge of the universe that for the rest of your life you are crying out to a God to do miracles, but you have pushed him away.
If he can’t govern that moment, he can’t govern the rest of your life and do the miracles you need for him to do. So you need two things: You need a God who disapproves of the ugliness, and you need a God who ordains that all things come to pass and is so sovereign he can take everything — including that — and work it for good.
And so, if you try to say there is no sense in which the sovereign God willed that, you will lose God for the rest of your life. So I think those two truths correspond to pretty profound needs that we all have. You may not be abused. It just may be the loss of a loved one. It may be disease entering into your life. It may be some painful relational conflict right now in marriage or with kids or with friends.
You are all in something. And you need two things: a God who can empathize with you as a high priest and hates sin. The definition of sin is God hates it and says, “Don’t do it! I forbid it.” And you need a God in that moment who is totally sovereign and governing all things so that even the sin being done against you is folded into his purposes for you, and you can shine like the sun someday even in spite of that loss, that pain. Both of those are needs that I think God meets by being this kind of God.
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