Our lives are a constant ebb and flow of challenges. In certain seasons, hardships compound, and we can barely catch our breath before another wave of difficulty crashes over us. Amid such adversity, can we still believe God is good and all-powerful? Wading through painful circumstances, it can be difficult to understand His intentions or involvement. The fog of misconceptions or doubt settles in around us. Yet one of God’s unchanging attributes can lift that haze: His sovereignty. But what does it mean that God is sovereign over our suffering?
God’s sovereignty means He has supreme power and authority. Why, then, do we still encounter hardships? The pain we face in life is not because God is weak and cannot prevent it. Nor is it that He is absent or uninterested. Instead, our hardships directly result from living in a sin-sick world. Romans 8:20 tell us creation is “subjected to futility” or “destruction.” We suffer the symptoms of a world broken by sin, much like an ecosystem corrupted by pollution. Life is choked from the landscape, and decay sets in. We can see similar effects of sin in our society. We face hardships not because God is not good but because we live in a broken world.
However, because God is sovereign, our suffering does not have to be in vain. He may allow us to walk a hard road marked with grief, sickness, or hardship. Yet along the way, He meets us with the grace and strength to endure. He is a God of hope, restoration, and purpose. In the obscurity of trials, we can hold to what we know is true of God’s sovereignty: He is aware, He cares, and He is powerful.
Have you ever watched a bird go about its daily activities? Maybe it busies itself with gathering twigs and twine and weaving a nest for its young. Perhaps it collects seeds or insects, filling its stomach before an approaching storm. Maybe it fills the dawn hour with morning melodies. Although most may go unnoticed, there are somewhere between 50 billion and 430 billion birds on earth. It’s an unfathomable number — yet not one of their lives goes unnoticed by God. Each of their songs delights Him. How much more must God care about the details of our days?
Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
If you are overcome with grief, enduring a season of suffering, or beset with fear, remember Jesus’ words in the Scripture above: “So don’t be afraid.” God not only knows every circumstance surrounding your life but also how they are affecting your heart, soul, mind, and body. His awareness is not a stale, distant knowledge but an intimately invested concern because He is not only aware, but He cares.
Regarding God’s care for us, His children, there is an often quoted verse in 1 Peter 5:7 that invites us to “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” The preceding verse offers a fuller understanding. 1 Peter 5:6-7 tells us this: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
Casting our anxieties on God becomes easier as we first humble ourselves — laying down our plans and presumptions — and trust His mighty hand in our lives. His hand may allow hardship to touch us — but His hand also provides sufficient protection and strength to endure. Further, we can trust God’s care for us in every circumstance because He willingly enters our pain. Taking the form of a human and walking on this broken earth, Jesus was “despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain,” as Isaiah 53:3 tells us. Pain is not an unfamiliar language to God. God empathizes with our pain, choosing to feel it with us. Because of this, we know His care is genuine.
Have you ever sat beside a friend as they went through a difficult season? Your presence — simply being aware and caring about their pain — likely meant more to them than you know. However, it’s hard not to want to do more. We wish we had the power to change their circumstances.
When God sits with us in our pain, fully aware of and empathizing with our suffering, He also brings power to restore us. He is actively at work in and around us. He may choose to overhaul our circumstances — or, He might decide to overhaul our hearts. God may use the fallow soil of suffering to reseed our faith and cultivate our understanding of who He is.
When it’s challenging to trust God’s intent in our circumstances, may we meditate on the following truths from His Word, remembering that He is aware, He cares, and He is powerful over our suffering.
“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”