Tag Archives: God’s sovereignty

When Evil Seems to Triumph

For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. (Ex. 9:15-16)

These words to pharaoh in the story of the exodus show that even when evil seems strong, God can use it for his purposes. It’s interesting that in the very beginning the Egyptian magicians could perform the same signs as Moses and Aaron, but it did not take long for that to change as Moses’ signs began to overpower the magicians’. Even so, pharaoh refused to soften his heart. He continued to set himself up as god, and refused to bow to the one true God. As the plagues increased in intensity, he began to feign repentance, but as soon as the plague reversed he backed out of his promise to let the children of Israel go. After living with abuse for 23 years, I recognized that dynamic very well.

Two things are noteworthy here. As God stated above, he could have wiped out the entire nation and delivered his people, but he did not. Just like there were times I really wished God would have just removed my abuser entirely from my life, but he did not. Second, Moses relays the message to pharaoh that he was sovereign over nothing, instead he was merely raised up to show God’s power and might. Pharaoh was doing everything in his power to hang onto control, and God was using his pathetic efforts to reveal his own. This is what I had to learn as I continued to struggle for my freedom those years ago. I was the one giving my abuser power by continuing to fear him more than God. Once I let go and put things in his hands, I realized that God had used the struggles for my good.

During the final plagues, we see that many of the Egyptians feared God, and heeded Moses’ warnings. Others did not. Even in judgment, God showed mercy to those honored him. By the time the Israelites left, they were loaded down with riches given to them by the Egyptians. God actually used pharaoh’s hardness of heart to reveal his power and goodness. It’s interesting that when God called Moses and Aaron to lead the people out of Egypt, it did not happen quickly or easily. Instead they faced many obstacles; even counterfeit miracles by the Egyptians. Just because they were called did not mean an end to struggles. In fact, it seemed to increase them.

Many times, we believe that just because God has called us to do something, he is going to pave the way, and make it smooth sailing for us. Instead we often face greater trials. However, he uses these difficulties so that his power and his name “might be proclaimed in all the earth.” God did not just reach the hearts of the Israelites with these displays. Many Egyptians came to honor him as well. If he had just wiped the nation out, that would not have happened. If he had wiped out my abuser, I would never know Him like I do now. God always has redemptive purposes in mind, especially when it seems that evil is strong. He uses bad things for his good purposes, and to cause people to come to know him. There is nothing more precious in this life.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Ph. 3:8).

Lord, help me to never become discouraged when bad things happen, and never to lose hope when evil seems to triumph over good. Remind me that your redemptive purposes are always being accomplished even in the midst of suffering and evil. You will show your goodness to those who choose to seek you, and you work all things together for good for those who love you. I am so blessed to be your child. Amen

When People Hurt Us

I’ve always loved the story of Joseph in Genesis (37-50), because it is a story of redemption. In fact, I often tell his story to children who have witnessed and experienced domestic violence, because Joseph had some rather traumatic experiences and overcame them. While the world tells us that such trauma sets us up for a lifetime of misery, I believe this account shows that, with God, that does not have to be the case. Joseph entrusted himself to God in spite of his circumstances, and recognized that God’s plan for his life included using the trauma he experienced for good purposes. Even though he was abused, betrayed and suffered severe injustice, Joseph recognized and proclaimed faith in God’s good and loving plan.

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.” (Gen. 45:8)

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Get. 50:20)

Time and time again Joseph recognized God in his negative circumstances. It is obvious that he was hurt by them, but he still acknowledged God’s hand in them all. He could have easily become bitter and angry with God during this time. After all, many injustices had occurred. He had every right to be upset. His circumstances just weren’t fair, but he continued to entrust himself to God.

We have a choice people hurt us. We can allow it to make us bitter, and give them power over us, or we can let God make us better and realize he is ultimately sovereign over it all. This is not to say that we shouldn’t get out of an abusive relationship when we can! Scripture is filled with godly people who ran from harm. (See Ac. 9:25 and 1 Sam. 19:10).  Jesus himself escaped harm until it was his appointed time to die (Jn. 10:39). However, even when people do us harm; he has the power to use it for good. No life experience is wasted when we belong to him. I think that coming to understand this is one of the keys to healing from abuse. Our feeble minds cannot see the long-term agenda, but he can.

There have been many times that I thought people had control of my life, but in reality God was still on the throne. I assumed people had all the power, but he wanted me to surrender it, and allow him to use it for my good. That is what he has always done. Many times in my life I have questioned why bad things have happened. I have wished I could go back and do something different so the outcome would be different. I have wished that I could control it all. I have lamented that people were hurting me, and yet when I look back, I see very clearly how God used it for good in my life. No, being abused was not good. Being betrayed by loved ones was not good, but as I entrusted myself to God in each situation, he was so faithful to use all the bad for good. I have a relationship with him that I wouldn’t trade for the entire world. He has been completely faithful in it all.

When I look back at the worst of times, they were also the best of times spiritually. Jesus held me and spoke to my wounded heart in the most awful circumstances. My experiences have been amazing tutors that have worked together for good in my life (Rom. 8:28). I have learned to stop asking why these days, and instead ask, “God, what do you want to teach me in this?” He always shows me, and in due time, he always lifts me back up. What an amazing God we serve!

Thank you Lord that you are sovereign over hurtful people. Even when you allow bad to happen, you always have a redemptive agenda in mind for your children. I praise you that nothing is wasted in your economy, and stand amazed that everything can be redeemed and used for good. This life is but a breath, but you have an eternal agenda that surpasses anything this world has to offer. I can rest in your goodness, even when things seem bad and out of control. In reality, they never are. Amen