Suffering – God’s Sovereignty

Suffering – God’s Sovereignty

We saw last week that good always overcomes evil. However, we will see in this lesson that God is the definition of good, and He is actively involved in each situation to bring about His desired end.

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.Matthew 19:16-17

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.Genesis 50:20-21

Good is not something that exists outside of God as some impersonal moral code. God is the very definition of good. He determines what is good, and He is good. Although it is correct to say that good will triumph over evil, it is more correct to say that God, Who defines good, will triumph over evil. In Joseph’s situation, it was not some impersonal unseen “karma” or “force” that brought about good. It was God Who triumphed over the evil. To do good is to make a conscious choice to be on God’s side; to do evil is to make a conscious choice to oppose God. Joseph did not do good towards his brothers to earn God’s favor. Rather, because God’s goodness triumphed over his brothers’ evil, Joseph chose to respond towards his brothers the way God had responded towards him.

But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.Job 2:10

And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?Daniel 4:34-35

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:Ephesians 1:7-11

Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.Psalm 115:2-3

Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?Romans 9:18-21

The God Who created us is good; He is also sovereign. He rules in all things and decrees everything that comes to pass. He does whatever pleases Him, and no man can go against Him. This idea of sovereignty would be terrifying if we did not know that God is good. Because God is sovereign and good, we can trust that He will bring about our good even in the midst of the greatest suffering and evil.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:28-39

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.1 Corinthians 15:54-58

Because God is good and God is sovereign, we can know for certainty that He will bring about the greatest good for His people. No matter the suffering we may endure, it will not stop His good purposes in our lives. Even death is victory for the Christian. In light of these things we see that what God requires of us is that we simply trust Him and continue to do what He has commanded us to do even when it appears that it is futile.

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