More than anything, this is a post that I am writing to myself. I need to be reminded of these things at this moment, and will probably continue to be reminded until glory.
I had a terrible headache a couple of nights ago. I went running with the children in the morning, and I probably didn’t drink enough water after that, or who knows. So around 11 am, the headache began creeping in. It was one of those headaches where your head is not in full-on pain, but the headache is just there, lingering. I didn’t have any medicine available that I could take, so I hoped it would go away.
We had such a busy day, that by the time we came home after running errands, I just couldn’t imagine making one more stop at the pharmacy to buy some Tylenol. I was miserable. Long story short, I had two pills at 8 pm, and went to bed. I was not really asleep, I was just closing my eyes in hopes that the medicine and the darkness in my room will make me feel better. Then, I told the LORD, “This really hurts, please, take this pain away.”
A headache is all it took for God to show me that He is in charge, and that I am, despite my illusion of power, not really in control of anything that happens in my life.
The next morning when I woke up, it was like I could SEE how my anxiety and all my first world problems had just gone away along with the headache. I was so relieved of that horrible pain that I felt happy. I was thankful that my head did not hurt at all. And I praised the LORD for that. That morning I also read this in my daily Bible reading:
Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
For the last six months I have been going against something that I know it’s true theologically, but it seems to escape my heart again and again – that God is sovereign.
That word in itself – SOVEREIGNTY – has many different meanings to different people. I don’t think it is because there are many meanings – there is only one meaning – but most people do not like what it actually means. When I say God is sovereign, I mean that from all eternity God decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself (Isaiah 46:10). God did this by the perfectly wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably. Yet God did this in such a way that He is neither the author of sin nor has fellowship with any in their sin (Ephesians 1:11).
All that seems like a lot if information, but writing these things helps me. There is more.
Since all things come to pass unchangeably and certainly in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God (Acts 2:23), and God being the first cause, then nothing happens to anyone by chance or outside of God’s providence (Proverbs 16:33). Yet by the same providence God arranges all things to occur according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or in response to other causes (Genesis 8:22). In His ordinary providence, God makes use of means (Acts 27:31), though He is free to work apart from them (Hosea 1:7), beyond them (Romans 4:19:21), and contrary to them (Daniel 3:27) at His pleasure.
So, I believe that, biblically speaking, God ordained my headache. God used means to bring that headache come about; whether it was dehydration or stress, I don’t know. God, however, can do as He pleases with me, and with my body – with my entire life, really, He made me. I am His creature. He has that right over me. That is what it means for God to be God. And I don’t think this makes God evil, or mean, or in any way unloving when He brings about suffering in my life, because I believe that my suffering has a purpose. I cannot go over everything that I believe regarding the character of God in order to convince others that His purposes for His people are always good.
My point for this post is that my heart gets stuck when life happens and it struggles catching up with the theology in my head. There is this particular situation in my life right now that I have no control over, and yet, I find myself going at it as if I could actually make things happen… and it’s just not happening. And it makes me angry, and it makes me sad. And so that headache the other night reminded of how fragile I really am.
I am also being reminded that I don’t pray over the situation. I pray, but not as fervently as I should; therefore, I forget that prayer is also a means that God uses in order to accomplish His purposes.
It is simply staggering that God, the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, would ordain that prayers cause things. Prayers cause things to happen that would not happen if you didn’t pray. I wonder if there are any Calvinists out there squirming…
– John Piper
Uh, yes… Me.
Just the other day while studying Astronomy with the children, I saw a picture of a basketball side by side with a peppercorn. That’s the difference in size between the Sun and the Earth! The whole Earth is a peppercorn. What about Mount Everest? It would be a speck in the peppercorn that is next to the basketball.
What about me? What size would I be, really, compared to the Sun then?
And what size would I be when I compare myself to God?
And yet, this magnificent God, at the right time, choose to enter into His own creation to dwell among us! He freely humbled Himself, and had He not done that, I wouldn’t even be here. There are bigger purposes and bigger realities that the ones I can see. Sometimes (more like all the time) I suffer from tunnel vision. I hate that. When I pray about my situation, I pray for God to give me what I desire, but that is not the purpose of prayer. I think I am missing the whole point of prayer which is communion with God. The LORD of the universe hears me! What other thing can be more amazing than that?
So just for the last three or fours days after my headache, when I am tempted to ask why this would be happening, and why God is still not granting my desires, I just don’t question Him anymore. I don’t want to question Him. I really want to trust Him. If God can make people mute, deaf, seeing or blind, I’m sure He can change my situation, but He hasn’t, so I need to rely on Him.
I also believe that the perfectly wise, righteous, and gracious God often allows His own children for a time to experience a variety of temptations and the sinfulness of their own hearts. He does what He does to chastise them for their former sins or to make them aware of the hidden strength of the corruption and deceitfulness of their heart so that they may be humbled. I am actually experiencing this, and He is allowing that, too, to happen.
I have noticed that what I desire is taking precedence, and I can feel it in my heart. It becomes a must in my life, and that shouldn’t be. In my heart sometimes I desire my desires more than I desire God Himself. That is Idolatry 101.
God is humbling me. Uh… a headache knocked me out the other night. How foolish of me to think that I can be in control. I realize that my sin is bigger than I think it really is. I am not being faithful. I am not trusting that God allows this to lead me to a closer and more constant dependence on Him to sustain me, to make me more cautious about all future circumstances that may lead to sin, and for other just and holy purposes (2 Chronicles 32:25, 26, 31; 2 Corinthians 12:7–9).
I want to trust that whatever happens to me, happens by His appointment, for His glory, and for my good (Romans 8:28). And that DOES NOT mean that I will get my desires after suffering for a while. I am learning to trust God whether or not God gives me what I desire. I want to desire God more than I desire anything else, even if that means my desires will never be granted.
So that’s where I am lately. God will conform me to the image of His Son. I am resting on that 🙂