When I was a new Christian in college, a good friend of mine was involved in an accident on campus. The doctors told us that there was very little chance he would live. So about twenty college students prayed for him and we begged God for two days to save his life.
On one of those days, a girl that was far more spiritual and mature than me prayed, “God, I thank you, that in the midst of all of this, you are sovereign, that we can trust you, and that you are in control.”
I remember thinking I have no idea what it means for God to be sovereign. But I was definitely not going to ask the girl! So I asked a friend and then did a word study on it.
In the dictionary, the word sovereign means above all, superior to all, the greatest, the supreme in rank in power; holding a position of authority; a ruler, excellent, reigning; a person who possesses sovereign authority, and specific like a monarch or a ruler.
Later, I learned that the sovereignty of God is that which separates the God of the Bible from all other religions, truth claims, and philosophies. So when we say, “God is sovereign,” we declare that by virtue of His creatorship over all of life and reality He is an all-knowing, all-powerful and benevolent ruler.
He is, in fact, the Lord of lords and the King of kings and in absolute control of time and eternity.
Do you believe that?
The truth is: Nothing will come into my life or your life today that God did not either allow or decree for our ultimate good.
He’s in control even in our fallen world where terrible things happen and people do terrible things. He’s in control even when there are things we don’t understand.
If we will cooperate and trust Him, He will actually take the very worst that can happen in our experience and work it out for good. Experiences like the mate that walks out, the cancer that brought death, the drunk driver who went left of center, the wayward son, the wayward daughter, the betrayal by a business partner, the upside down financial experience, the loss of a house … you name it.
How can we know this is true?
God’s promises demand that He is sovereign.
Romans 8:28, a very familiar passage, says, “For we know that God works all things together for the good, for those that love Him and that are called according to His purposes.”
In our pain and difficulty and betrayal, it is really difficult to believe this. It was difficult for me to believe that God was still in control even when my college friend was battling his life in intensive care. And also when he did survive but ended up paralyzed from the waist down.
But the Bible is clear. God is both all-knowing and all-powerful. He knows every situation of every person in every circumstance and every motive so that He will weave it in a way that will work out for our ultimate good.
If you’re struggling with believing this, then I would encourage you to do a search in the Bible for the verses that say: “He is above all things,” and “He is in control of all things” and read them slowly. Passages like…
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)
The more you focus on this truth the more you will develop a larger picture of God. Why is this so important.
Faith is always rooted in the character of God and the promises that He makes.
If you have a small God, you will always have big, overwhelming problems. But if you have a big God, then little by little, those problems you face — won’t necessarily be less painful — but they will start to become smaller and smaller.
To learn more about the sovereignty of God and His other attributes, check out Chip’s series and group study, The Real God.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip