This year most of us have experienced something unprecedented. We have faced a global pandemic–a virus that spread throughout the world causing death and destruction. With this came a disruption in normalcy. Children were suddenly dismissed from schools, parents were suddenly working from home, and for many, jobs were lost. In the wake of this, many felt hopeless and frustrated.
As 2019 wound to its conclusion, many of us made resolutions anticipating the new year, declaring in hope that, "2020 will be the best year yet!" These filled social media feeds, along with pictures looking forward to a new year. But none of us actually knew what 2020 would hold. None of us could have imagined the changes that we faced. None of us could have imagined the pandemic that would sweep the world.
But there is One who did know. God was not taken aback by the news of the pandemic. He was not surprised at its spread or the destruction it would cause. And this is because He is sovereign. He has full power and authority over His creation.
You may be familiar with the story of Job. Job loses his children, his livestock, his servants, and then he endures awful sores all over his body. This happens in the first two chapters of the book, and we learn that God grants Satan permission to afflict Job in this way. But it is not until chapter 38–the very end of the book!–that God speaks to Job. When God does speak, He asks Job a series of questions. These questions remind Job, and now us, that God is the One who created all things and orchestrates every aspect of creation. He laid the foundations of the earth. He determined its measurements. He laid its cornerstone. He shut the seas with doors and made the clouds its garment. God has full authority over His creation. He is sovereign. And our response should mirror Job's when he says, "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted" (Job 42:2). God can do whatever He wills. His will is perfect, and no one will thwart it.
In Colossians 1:16-17 Paul writes, "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." God created the world and determined every intricate detail of His creation. And this God, our God, did not create the world and then leave it to itself. On the contrary, God actively works in His creation.
This sovereignty extends not merely to weather patterns and viruses and all the other stuff of creation but to people as well. He guides and governs our lives. In the New Testament, we see this idea in the book of James. James writes, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'–yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that'" (4:13-15). God has full authority and power over every day of our lives. He determines what each day will bring and determines the number of those days (cf. Psalm 90).
But God's sovereignty doesn't lead to some kind of bleak determinism. There is hope and joy here, because since He is sovereign over us, we can rest in His sovereign care for us.
As I write this, I can hear the playful chirping of birds just outside my window. I'm not normally one to get excited about such things, but even I can see the beauty in God's created diversity–the sheer number of birds, their many colors and sounds. Birds do the same thing every day. They fly around, eat, and do whatever else birds do, completely unaware of the problems of the world. But Jesus uses these birds to teach a lesson about our Lord's sovereign care. He says:
Consider the birds of the sky: They don't sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you worth more than they? Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don't labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. If that's how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won't he do much more for you–you of little faith?Matthew 6:26-30
He cares for the birds. He even clothes the grass–the grass that we mow and then toss to the side to die. Yet still, He cares for it. How much more does He care for us? Are we not of more value than they? This is a truth that Jesus wanted His followers to understand. He says this again in Matthew 10:29-31: "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
With every sign of life in creation, may we be reminded that we are of more value than the things we behold–that God's care for us far surpasses His care for all other things. As Charles Spurgeon said, "The sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which the child of God rests his head at night, giving perfect peace. May we rest here–assured of our Father's authority, power, and care for us.