The Sovereignty of God in Time
Nothing reminds me of my finiteness and limitations like being in a hospital. Whether I’m visiting a family member or friend who is sick or the three times my wife has given birth, sitting in a hospital room always reminds me how powerless I am. Even doctors and nurses are little more than managers of our symptoms. Healthcare is by nature reactionary. It seemed with every late OB appointment my wife had, her doctor would say, “We’ll see what happens.” Of course, he had plans and his experience and wisdom informed him of what would “likely” happen. But his plans and our plans were all tentative and in response to what was actually happening in my wife’s body.
In a hospital room, I can’t cause anything to happen. That’s why there is so much waiting in hospitals. Waiting for test results. Waiting for consultations and second opinions. Waiting to hear good or bad news. With all of the difficult decisions that must be made comes the sobering realization that we aren’t in control.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 reminds us that we are subject and God is sovereign. The beautiful poem of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is fun to read and quote, but it serves as a mirror to remind us of just how small we are. There is a time for everything but we don’t set the times. We merely act accordingly in them. Everything we do is either a willing or unwilling submission to God’s sovereignty. When seasons change and temperatures drop, we order our lives accordingly. We submit to God’s orchestration of creation whether we admit it or not. No one can escape God’s sovereignty by opposing him.
God is in control. We are not. He is in the heavens and has the prerogative to do whatever he pleases (Ps. 115:3). His universal and eternal sovereignty deserves and demands praise. “Whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him” (Eccl. 3:14).
This is true whether we agree with God’s timing or not. Since we aren’t in control, there is much about our lives we can’t choose or change. Whatever happens to us, good or bad, is well within the sovereign control of God. Since God is good and is working all things for the good of his people, we can trust him even if we don’t agree with him. His timing is always best and sufficient. If we face hardship or suffering, it’s not necessarily the result of faithlessness or sin. God has done it. He isn’t an equal and opposite force to Satan. He is a sovereign Lord who is weaving all of history for his purposes, according to his wisdom, and toward his appointed end.
We can trust God because he is in control and because he is graciously moving history for the good of his people. He’s in control because he’s Creator. He saves because he is love. God has appointed a time for everything, including the incarnation. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son…so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:5-6).
Our lack of control, our natural submission to time, should scare us. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We don’t know if we will take another breath tomorrow! But the God who wields history for his glory also works for our good. We can trust him every time, season, and occasion because he is God and he is good.
Mathew Gilbert is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. Mathew and his wife, Erica, are Kentucky natives living in Tupelo with their three sons, Jude, Jack, and John.