A Sovereign Goodness

God’s sovereignty—what does it really mean?


It’s nice to think about God’s sovereignty when I consider the amazing way He works things out—how, in his sovereignty, He allowed me to be born into a Christian family. With His sovereign hand, He protected me from life-threatening or debilitating harm when a can exploded onto my knee as a little girl. He led me to a church that would teach me how to walk in an intimate relationship with Him. Sovereignty. It’s a good word.


But God’s sovereignty suddenly doesn’t seem like a good thing when I consider the unexpected ways that life hasn’t turned out—how, in His sovereignty, He allowed my niece to be born with a malformed heart. With His sovereign hand, He’s kept me single right up to the ripe old age of 37, without any marriage prospects in sight. He knew, in His sovereignty, that the results of my mother’s lung biopsy last week would be cancer. Cancer—on top of the cancer already eating away at her bones.


Sovereignty. It’s a confusing word.


Earlier this year I was reading the story of Samson in the book of Judges, and something strange jumped out at me. Although Samson was a miracle baby, destined to live the life of someone fully dedicated to the Lord (a Nazirite), he fell in love with an ungodly woman whose nation was the enemy of his people. Yet, he practically commanded his parents to get her for him as a wife. Judges 14:4 picks up the story from there: “However, his father and mother did not know that it was of the Lord, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines.”


What? This was from the Lord? Samson was clearly disobeying the Law that forbade him to intermarry with foreign, pagan women whose people had yet to be driven from Israel. Confused, I turned to the notes on this verse in the margin of my Spirit-Filled Life Bible. There, someone wise wrote the following: “God did not approve of Samson’s decision to break the law, but He used the circumstances for His purposes and for His glory.”


As I thought about it, years of confusion about this characteristic of God suddenly melted away. Sovereignty doesn’t mean that everything that happens is God’s will; rather, it must mean that in site of and in the midst of—and maybe even because of—everything that happens, God accomplishes His will.


That is, His good, acceptable and perfect will, according to Romans 12:1-2. His will that is accomplished through miraculous and happy events, and despite disappointing and heart-breaking circumstances. Sovereignty isn’t about the circumstance itself; it’s about the goodness in the circumstance.


Or better yet, it’s about the God in the middle of the circumstance, the God whose very nature is the source of anything good in the first place.


I’m still learning more about the sovereignty—and goodness—of that God. Somehow, in the midst of my life’s most disappointing circumstances, I’m experiencing them first hand. Somehow, I think that’s part of the point. As the Lord shows me more of Himself, I’ll be sure to post more new thoughts in the future.



3 Responses to “ “A Sovereign Goodness”

  1. benward says:

    Thanks for this, Joanne. He is sovereign and He is good.

  2. Paul and Alison says:

    note to self…do not read Joanne's blog while at work. This was incredibly touching and illuminating. Thank you for this post.

  3. Rachel says:

    You are beautiful.
    Your vulnerability is beautiful.
    You write beautifully.
    Your trust in the Lord is beautiful.
    Your heart for Him is beautiful.

    I love that you are trusting in His sovereignty to make beautiful, all the parts of your life.

    You are a treasure. Thanks for sharing your heart.

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