To date, COVID-19 has claimed more than 600,000 lives worldwide – and that daily case count is still rising. In the U.S., political viewpoints are dangerously polarizing the country. Millions of people have lost jobs and income and are struggling to make ends meet. In this environment full of pain and fear and uncertainty, many people are asking, “Where is God? Is he in control?”
I will be writing multiple posts about this question over the next few weeks, because there is just too much to say about such an important topic to put into a single post. (Unless you want the post to go on and on and on and on...!)
So, today, let’s debunk a big myth and celebrate a great truth about God being in control.
THE BIG MYTH: “God being in control means that nothing bad can happen to me.”
This is a really popular myth – understandably so, since no one wants to suffer. But the Bible is very clear that God makes no guarantees about an easy or prosperous or safe life to believers. For example, Paul says in Philippians 4:11-12 that there have been times in his life when he has had an abundance of good things, but he also affirms that there have been lean times when he has been hungry and suffered need. In Romans 8:35, he goes even further, and reminds us that we may experience “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.”
Therefore, God’s Word teaches that we are in a fallen world where bad things happen to everyone, including believers. The fact that bad things happen to us does not in any way mean that God is not in control. This brings us to the greatest truth ...
THE GREAT TRUTH: “God being in control means that he will see me through anything bad that happens to me.”
Let’s turn to the same passages we referenced above. Paul, after acknowledging that he has experienced good times and bad times, provides us with the source of his ability to stand firm in his faith no matter what happens to him: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). He recognizes that there is no guarantee that things will get better or that he will be spared or even that he will survive (he was martyred). He simply states that he can get through any and all circumstances because God is with him and strengthening him.
Then, in Romans 8:37-39, Paul gives us another view on God’s control: “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because God is in control, no circumstances can ever separate us from his love – we are safe and secure in him. And, because of his love, he will give us the victory in every circumstance – the power to conquer sin and fear and doubt and to live holy lives that radiate his love and light into a hate-filled and dark world.
Let’s re-cast Philippians 4:11-13 and Romans 8:35-39 with what is happening today, and use the words as a prayer and affirmation of our faith in God – the One who is in perfect control:
Father, help me to learn to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. “The American dream” talks a lot about prosperity and abundance ... but COVID-19 has stripped much of that away from me and may strip away even more. I am in need and suffering in many ways. I ask you to strengthen me through this time so that I can stand firm in you. I know that you can and will give me the mercy and grace I need.
I am also troubled by what is happening in our country – injustice, racism, violence, conspiracy theories, political polarization, corruption, deceit, immorality ... the list goes on and on. But I affirm that I and your Church can overwhelmingly conquer in all of these things. We can bring light into the darkness, hope to the hopeless, healing to the wounded, forgiveness to the broken, justice to the downtrodden, and peace to the polarized. We can do so because we know – I know – that we are safe and secure in your love, proven by the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ Jesus our Lord.
Truly, Almighty God, you are in control – of all circumstances and in my life.