Years ago, I used to believe that God had a perfect will for me, but I could mess it up. By making some stupid choice or not praying fervently enough, I could “miss the boat” or make mistakes for which I would pay dearly.
As I began to study the Scripture, however, I learned that my concept was wrong. God is sovereign over his creation, and that includes me. If He were not controlling and sustaining my life, I wouldn’t exist. Therefore everything that happens to me, good and bad, is part of his will for my life. If I exercise my free will to sin or make mistakes, God uses even those things for my ultimate good—to discipline me, teach me, and mold me to be the daughter He wants me to be.
Knowing this has freed me from the tyranny of fear. Think of Job: a blameless man, a good man, and yet God allowed Satan to afflict him, grieve him, strike his body with disease. What gives God the right? His sovereignty. His role as Creator. God is not cruel as men count cruelty; His ways are just and some of his reasons may be far above our understanding. But even when we are in the fire of testing, nothing can touch us unless our loving God grants permission.
So when, as a mother, I worry that I am warping my kids for life because I tell them “no,” I’ve learned that I’m not the ultimate shaper of their lives—God is. He created them, and He will mold them. He will use me as an example for good (and bad), and my children will use their free will to accept or reject my example. But through it all, God is sovereign.
I was once speaking about God’s sovereignty in a class of women. Later, one mother came up with tears in her eyes and said, “Our son died when he was ten. You can’t mean his death was God’ will.”
My heart broke as I looked at her suffering-filled eyes. “I know it’s a hard truth,” I told her, “but I’d rather live in a world where God controls everything than in a world where certain things are out of his control. How could we know peace if death and sin and crime were beyond the limits of God’s power?”
That would be a fearful world indeed.
In Genesis 50, Joseph told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” God didn’t merely allow or make the best of a bad situation, he intended everything—the prison, the testing, the years of loneliness—to refine Joseph’s character and to save the world from famine.
David wrote, “Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (Ps. 139:16).
Knowing that—that God has plotted the days of this novelist’s life—gives me great peace and takes away fear.