Yesterday, I was reading some of the reader response to a recent Christianity Today article entitled, "Young, Restless and Reformed". I was reminded afresh that for all the biblical and theological debate that has raged across the centuries, the old Arminian/Calvinistic divide still remains. It does not seem to matter what is said and how carefully the Scriptures are exegeted, some refuse to bow to what I believe is the clear teaching of the Bible. This does not mean that we necessarily understand everything the Bible has to say on the subject of divine sovereignty and human responsibility, but it does reflect my conviction that things are sufficiently clear that we can understand enough of what God wants us to know about these two important subjects.
In saying that, I am not for a minute justifying all that has been said in defense of "Calvinism", even though, in the main, I think it best represents the proper interpretation of Scripture. All systems, including some that like to attach themselves to the great Reformer, need to be brought to the Bible and examined in light of what it says as a whole from beginning to end. But all this is not the main point of my post. What I want to say is that as I read, it occurred to me again that the sovereignty of God is a robust doctrine especially designed for tough times.
When one is floating on the sea of uncertainty, not sure what is going to happen next, there is nothing like the truth that God is completely sovereign to calm the wind and the waves that are swirling around. This doctrine is what one has called "a soft pillow for a weary head". If God is nothing more than a grand chessmaster, comfort goes out the window. But when we see that he knows exactly what he is doing with our lives, that he loves us and is working out all things for our good and his glory, everything changes. All of a sudden there is stability beneath our feet. We have a place to stand. In a moment prayer becomes more than just an exercise that benefits our spiritual fitness, it is our way of interacting with our sovereign and yet personal God.
I guess what I am trying to say at this late hour is that people can rail against God's sovereignty when things are going good, but it is much more difficult to do so when the going is tough and nothing seems secure but him who is from everlasting, the creator and sustainer of this world, and the king who will triumph in the end. His unrivaled sovereignty makes all his promises glow with new splendor and power. Our God can not only speak comforting words, but he can make sure that his word does not return empty but accomplishes the purpose for which he sent it. And that is something I need, when all around everything else seems so uncertain.