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When brokenness comes into our lives, it’s natural to wonder where God’s sovereignty fits within the pain. Have you ever felt the ache of divine silence amid despair? Within the last year, our family absorbed the blows of two unexpected accidents, and our submission to God’s sovereignty at every stage was a crucial pattern that helped us learn contentedness in the chaos, regardless of whether we always knew the answer to why.   

I was on the slopes with my husband and kids when my skis slipped from beneath me and I landed squarely on my right elbow. The level of bone-shattering stupefied everyone for a small fall–over. I had ten breaks across my upper arm, elbow joint, and forearm. Several painful procedures later, including a six-hour surgery, the recovery process began which placed a significant burden on family and friends to pick up the pieces where I was left incapable. I was tired—eight months earlier several of my ten year old’s fingers were severed in a terrifying accident.

When life goes sideways, it’s important to remind ourselves that God is good and in control, even when His presence doesn’t feel close at every moment. In fact, there is normalcy to this feeling within the Christian experience. Job felt that no matter what direction he looked, God seemed absent (Job 23:8-9). Naomi changed her name to Bitter in a despairing response to the death of her family and livelihood that were permitted by the ‘Almighty’ (Ruth 1:20-21). Yet in every story – including our own – we always find divine hope run alongside the despair.

Sovereign Purpose

God sovereignly appoints trials for a variety of reasons: testing, training godliness, disciplining, comforting others, and more. Yet regardless of the specifics in our own situations, all trials have one thing in common – they exist to bring glory to God. Jewelers will often showcase a diamond by placing it in front of a black, velvet backdrop to enhance its brilliance. When we consider the gospel, it’s when our awareness of God’s wrath against our sin deepens, that we respond in awe that He would die to save us from it (Romans 9:19-23).

Regardless of the reason why brokenness has come, God’s perfection shines more brightly when it’s contrasted against darkness. Despair becomes an opportunity to showcase Christ’s brilliance in ways that moments of pleasure never can. God’s sovereignty significantly impacts how we respond to all kinds of trials and generates trust, hope, power, and worship instead.

His Sovereignty Generates Trust

God is not only sovereign, but always good and never evil. Being the very essence of goodness Himself, it is impossible for Him to be less than He is. Through the life and work of Jesus, the sovereign God of the universe made a way for us to know His goodness experientially, and assures that He is for us, not against us. While Satan’s plan for our pain is to crush us with malicious intent, God’s plan for our pain is to crush evil with God-glorifying intent.

God’s sovereignty fuels trust because we can rest in the knowledge that He is not overwhelmed by brokenness, but has absolute authority over it (Colossians 1:17). Because He is a personal God who is good, we can trust His promise to work all things together for our individual good and His ultimate glory.

His Sovereignty Produces Power

The sovereignty of God empowers us. The reason that we will not be tempted beyond our ability during trials is because the source of our strength is not our own but Christ’s (1 Corinthians 10:13). God not only reigns over the grand storyline of humanity but is sovereign over our personal life details.

When human resilience ends and despair pulls us down, His power working through us keeps us moving forward. We will always be appointed trials that are more than we can bear so that Christ can be seen to bear the impossible for us. We can move forward confidently, knowing that He will always give us the grace to endure the trials He appoints. When the dying sing His praises and those beaten down stand again to rise, His sovereign power is displayed through our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).    

His Sovereignty Springs Hope

From the day that we surrender our lives to Christ, we become homesick for heaven. Sometimes the brokenness in our lives is healed, yet other times it remains and our hearts ache for its release. Shards of pain can become stinging reminders that this temporal world is not our home – they can turn our hearts toward eternity where one-day brokenness itself will break into wholeness.

Christ is waiting there for us there with our names engraved upon His palms in commitment and love (Isaiah 49:16), ready to bring us home to wholeness. When we allow God-appointed trials to turn our eyes toward eternity, the hope of glorifying Him in the present world and meeting Him in the next strengthens us to carry on and fuels joy (Romans 5:4).

His Sovereignty Fuels My Worship

Suffering has the ability to turn us inward into ourselves and our loss or turn our hearts upward to our gain in having the Lord during them. During trials, we will never truly worship God as He desires until our passion for His glory exceeds our passion for the glory of ourselves. We can praise Him because His sovereignty generates trust, produces power, and springs hope in this life and the next. Whether brokenness is removed or remains, our worship declares that His adulation is our highest goal and ultimate delight. It is at the point of pure worship that God is most glorified in finding our soul’s ultimate contentment in Him (Philippians 3:8).

For our family, God sovereignly appointed ugliness that was never on our request list to endure. Unyielding physical pain, debilitating exhaustion, disappointment that future ambitions have been robbed by new disability. Broken bones that will never heal up quite right, and broken emotions that may linger for a life-time.

But whenever bitterness comes knocking at our door we remind one another to bow in submission to our good Father, knowing that He not only appointed these trials, but every point of emotional and physical grief that flows from them still. His sovereignty doesn’t generate bitterness against Him, but rest in Him because the struggles that we endure are appointed along with the presence of Christ to endure them with us.

Against the backdrop of this ugliness, the brilliance of Jesus has shone brightly into our hearts. Until we reach our heavenly home, Christ has made His home in us. The hope that runs alongside all despair is that the power of His gospel will move through even the deepest pain in order to redeem it.

When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head.” (Charles Spurgeon)