Day 6 Devotional

Sovereign over All

The coronavirus pandemic is a “bitter providence.” To describe some of God’s works as bitter is not blasphemy. It is not a disparagement of God’s ways but a description. 
The sweetness of God’s word is not diminished in the midst of this bitter providence—not if we have learned the secret of “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10): 
The same sovereignty that could stop the coronavirus, yet doesn’t, is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it. 
Knowing this makes all the difference. So is it true?
God is all-governing and all-wise. He is sovereign over the coronavirus. And this is good news—indeed, it is the secret of experiencing the sweetness of God in his bitter providences.
God Is Sovereign
Saying that God is all-governing means he is sovereign. His sovereignty means that he can do, and in fact does do, all that he decisively wills to do. I say decisively because God, in a sense, wills things he does not carry through. He can express desires that he himself chooses not to act on. In that sense, they are not decisive. He himself does not let such willing or desiring rise to the level of performance. But there is no force outside himself that can thwart or frustrate his will. 
When God decides for a thing to happen, it happens. This is part of the very essence of what it means to be God: “I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isa. 46:9–10). God does not just declare which future events will happen; he makes them happen. Which means, as Job learned from hard experience, “No purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). Or as Nebuchadnezzar learned from his merciful humiliation, “None can stay his hand” (Dan. 4:35).
As the psalmist says, “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does” (Ps. 135:6). Or as the apostle Paul sums up, God “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11). “All things.” Not some things. And “according to his will,” not according to wills or forces outside himself. 
In other words, the sovereignty of God is all-encompassing and all-pervasive. He holds absolute sway over this world. He governs wind (Luke 8:25), lightning (Job 36:32), snow (Ps. 147:16), frogs (Ex. 8:1–15), gnats (Ex. 8:16–19), flies (Ex. 8:20–32), locusts (Ex. 10:1–20), quail (Ex. 16:6–8), worms (Jonah 4:7), fish (Jonah 2:10), sparrows (Matt. 10:29), grass (Ps. 147:8), plants (Jonah 4:6), famine (Ps. 105:16), the sun (Josh. 10:12–13), prison doors (Acts 5:19), blindness (Ex. 4:11; Luke 18:42), deafness (Ex. 4:11; Mark 7:37), paralysis (Luke 5:24–25), fever (Matt. 8:15), every disease (Matt. 4:23), travel plans (James 4:13–15), the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1; Dan. 2:21), nations (Ps. 33:10), murderers (Acts 4:27–28), and spiritual deadness (Eph. 2:4–5)—and all of them do his sovereign will. 
Sent by God
The coronavirus was sent, therefore, by God. This is not a season for sentimental views of God. It is a bitter season. And God ordained it. God governs it. He will end it. No part of it is outside his sway.
Therefore, as we ponder our future with the coronavirus—or any other life-threatening situation—James tells us how we ought to think and speak: “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15). 
If he wills, we will live. If not, we won’t.
For all I know, I may not still be living by the time you read these words. I have at least one relative infected with the coronavirus. I am seventy-four years old, and my lungs are compromised with a blood clot and seasonal bronchitis. But these factors do not ultimately decide. God decides.
And that is good news, as we’ll see in the next reading.

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