From space, Hurricane Matthew looked brilliantly peaceful, but for many in the Caribbean and US it was violent and deadly. In the space of a few days, life which had seemed peaceful and predictable was turned upside down. While we were able to track Hurricane Matthew, take photos, and largely predict its track, the world’s super power was powerless to stop the Hurricane hitting our shores.
Suffering, devastation, and messy situations not only make an impact internationally and nationally, they also impact us personally. Many people are in the middle of their personal mega-hurricanes! In a split second any one of us can be thrown into personal chaos and confusion: ill health, financial crisis, emotional trauma, personal conflicts, and a host of other situations.
What are we to make of all this? What does this tell us about God? In the light of so much chaos, confusion, disasters, and tragedies is God really in control? Or if God is in control, why is the world such a mess?
I believe in a God who is sovereignly in control. One of the most common idolatries is to insist that God must conform to our ideas of what He must do and what He must be like! Over 3,000 years ago it was written: “Our God is in the heavens: He does all that He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). God is absolute ruler over everything, the supreme power over the whole universe. Nothing or no one can thwart His choices and his control. God rules over the fall of the sparrow as well as the fall of empires and nations.
It is difficult for us to grasp that God answers to no one. He is the supreme King over all of human history, and His authority is unlimited and unrestrained by anything outside of Himself. He created the planets and keeps them in their course. William Cowper wrote: “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants his footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm.”
Would we really want a God on our own terms? Conforming to our ideas or behaving the way we think is appropriate? What kind of God would that be? The living God is not a genie in a bottle always ready to respond to our commands. He is the supreme Lord Almighty who has all power and authority. Yes, God is sovereign over the forces of nature.
When Jesus was on earth, He was in a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee. The storm was so fierce that the disciples, some of whom were seasoned fisherman, were afraid that they were going to die. Jesus stood in that little boat, and did what only God can do: he spoke to the wind and the sea, “Peace be still”. And there was a great calm.
While I do not profess to understand all of God’s ways, I rest on the fact that He is not only a sovereign God, but a God of infinite love and care. In the middle of life’s difficult circumstances, tragedies, disappointments, and setbacks our gracious God gives us His peace, and asks that we trust him.
Looking at our world, and our own lives it would be very easy to get discouraged, but God is working out his purposes. This God who sees our suffering, our mess, and our failures has entered into our world in the person of his Son our Lord Jesus Christ. He comes to remedy the mess. Through His death for our sins, and through His resurrection He overcomes evil, and offers us forgiveness of our sins. In the future there will be a new heaven and a new earth where suffering, tears, pain, and death will have passed away (Revelation 21:4). In the meantime, place your trust in this great God who loves you, and who is always in control.