By Max Lucado
I know God knows what’s best.
I know I don’t.
I know he cares.
Such words come easily when the water is calm. But when you’re looking at a wrecked car or a suspicious-looking mole, when war breaks out or thieves break in, do you trust him?
Scripture, from Old Testament to New, from prophets to poets to preachers, renders one unanimous chorus: God directs the affairs of humanity. No leaf falls without God’s knowledge. No dolphin gives birth without his permission. No wave crashes on the shore apart from his calculation. God has never been surprised. Not once.
I am the one who creates the light and makes the darkness. I am the one who sends good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things. (Isa. 45:7)
Some find the thought impossible to accept. One dear woman did. After I shared these ideas in a public setting, she asked to speak with me. Husband at her side, she related the story of her horrible childhood. First abused, then abandoned by her father. Unimaginable and undeserved hurts scar her early memories. Through tear-filled eyes she asked, “Do you mean to tell me God was watching the whole time?”
The question vibrated in the room. I shifted in my chair and answered, “Yes, he was. I don’t know why he allowed your abuse, but I do know this. He loves you and hurts with you.” She didn’t like the answer. But dare we say anything else? Dare we suggest that God dozed off? Abandoned his post? That heaven sees but can’t act? That our Father is kind but not strong, or strong but doesn’t care?
I wish she could have spoken to Joseph. His brothers abused him, selling him into slavery. Was God watching? Yes. And our sovereign God used their rebellious hearts to save a nation from famine and the family of the Messiah from extinction. As Joseph told them, “God turned into good what you meant for evil” (Gen. 50:20).
Best of all would have been a conversation with Jesus himself. He begged God for a different itinerary: a crossless death. From Gethsemane’s garden Christ pleaded for a Plan B. Redemption with no nails. “ ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him” (Luke 22:42–43).
Did God hear the prayer of his Son? Enough to send an angel. Did God spare his Son from death? No. The glory of God outranked the comfort of Christ. So Christ suffered, and God’s grace was displayed and deployed.
Are you called to endure a Gethsemane season? Have you “been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29 NASB)?
If so, then come thirsty and drink deeply from his lordship. He authors all itineraries. He knows what is best. No struggle will come your way apart from his purpose, presence, and permission. What encouragement this brings! You are never the victim of nature or the prey of fate. Chance is eliminated. You are more than a weather vane whipped about by the winds of fortune. Would God truly abandon you to the whims of drug-crazed thieves, greedy corporate raiders, or evil leaders? Perish the thought!
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the Lord your God.
(Isa. 43:2–3 NASB)
We live beneath the protective palm of a sovereign King who superintends every circumstance of our lives and delights in doing us good.
Nothing comes your way that has not first passed through the filter of his love.
Learn well the song of sovereignty: I know God knows what’s best. Pray humbly the prayer of trust: “I trust your lordship. I belong to you. Nothing comes to me that hasn’t passed through you.”
A word of caution: the doctrine of sovereignty challenges us. Study it gradually. Don’t share it capriciously. When someone you love faces adversity, don’t insensitively declare, “God is in control.” A cavalier tone can eclipse the right truth. Be careful.
And be encouraged. God’s ways are always right. They may not make sense to us. They may be mysterious, inexplicable, difficult, and even painful. But they are right. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Rom. 8:28).