Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Struggling with Sovereignty

How is it even possible that the one attribute of God that so many find such immeasurable comfort in, His sovereignty over all things, is the very same attribute that so many likewise struggle with?

I stopped to consider this yesterday as I thought about how much I used to love fall. For the longest time it was my favorite season of the year. I loved everything about it, from the cool, crisp smell in the air, to the anticipation it brings with it that Christmas is just around the corner, to the fantastic color changes all around you in nature. All of those things are still just as wonderful as they've always been, but now there is a dark cloud that comes along with fall and that dark cloud says "fall means winter is coming and winter means you will suffer and be in much misery for many months". I can become easily frustrated with those around me that do not understand the physical pain I go through when I become too cold. It's just the way God made me, but when I get too cold my body begins to scream out in a bone-chilling ache, very similar to the body-aches you might experience when you have the flu. I have to bundle up and stay bundled up for the winter months, and quite often will have to stop what I'm doing right in the middle of the day and turn the bathwater on at it's hottest setting, to thaw myself out and get that pain out of my bones. Clearly I was not designed to live in a cold climate.

I used to love so many thing about winter as well. Watching the snow fall, playing Christmas music, making my family's favorite winter-comfort-foods, etc. However, the older I get the more miserable I become when I get cold, and here in Ontario the cold winters last far too long for me. And the very same God who brings beautiful sunny summer days, gorgeous fall color change and the hushing of the world under a fresh blanket of sparkling snow is the very same God who plummets the temperatures well into the minus category for months on end.

I can't help but see the irony in how God's sovereignty is good and right and awesome when it serves me well, and yet somehow one of those things I don't care for, when it serves to make me miserable. His sovereignty is the same source of divine orchestration that brings many other situations to come pass that fall into the same double-sided sort of category. The same God that brings people into your life that build you up, encourage you, support you and will be there through good times and bad, is the same God who sends people into your life who will criticize, tear down, and betray you. The same God who brings years of happiness and good health is the same God who also permits heartache, pain and illness to become part of your every day existance. The same God who brings financial stability is the same God who takes these things away and shows you what genuine poverty looks and feels like.

I know I certainly have not yet arrived at the "count it all joy" stage, when I am suffering through difficult times and I often wonder if the only way to get there is to suffer more? Sometimes I wonder what it really means to "suffer well". I'm fairly certain it means no whining, no complaining, and being able to find the silver lining in every black cloud that comes along. No, I have definitely not arrived in that place yet.

Just a few random thoughts on a cold, rainy, blustery fall morning.

Graphic design by Carla Rolfe