God’s sovereignty: Some New Year’s reflections
Read time: 5.2 minutes
Once again we are approaching a New Year, a time to reflect upon the past year and to resolve to do better, be better. We want to set things right. So in three blogposts: A look at Jeremiah 29:11; Aspects of God’s sovereignty and Understanding what God sovereignty means to us, I will help lay a foundation for you so you can set things right, right from the start.
Today we take a look at God’s sovereignty over our lives in 2022.
He who was and is to come has always been.
Happy New Year! Today is the first day in the Year of Our Lord 2022.
A New Year is typically the time to take stock of the past and to resolve to do better now and into the future. Good things, to be sure, but if you don’t build a firm foundation for those new beginnings, you won’t be successful.
Self-reliance, reliance on experts, or reliance on leaders will never fulfill our search for finding peace nor be a sure bet. If 2021 taught us anything, it’s that solely trusting in ourselves or in other people is doomed to failure at best and is our undoing at worst. One just needs to review the ever-evolving COVID narrative to see that this is true. Or to recall Biden’s campaign promises about conquering COVID and a better economy and compare them to our current reality. Or those who told us that Trump would soon be back in office.
Experts and leaders fail us. Because they are imperfect human beings who may have good intentions, who may not. Such things, however, are nothing new. About 2,000 years ago, the apostle Paul writes:
But understand this, that in the last days* there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-17)
(“Last days” can also be understood as the time from Jesus’ ascension into heaven and the day that he will come again to judge all things. In that regard, we are living in the “last days.”)
Although we must be aware of what is swirling around us in this world so that we can be the best stewards in our present circumstances, this awareness must never become reliance, as reliance upon man is building upon sinking sand. The only sure rock, the only sure foundation is to build not on something but on Someone. Someone who was, and is, and is to come, who possesses all knowledge, all wisdom, who knows the future and, most important, who loves us more than we can imagine, who can give us inner peace, and who cares about each of us individually, so much so that He has numbered the hairs on our heads.
To help you as you formulate your resolutions for the New Year, in this post I will share with you some foundational principles.
Principle #1: Who God is
Below are just a few of the many attributes of God. For some of the Scriptures supporting these characteristics, you can go to: An infographic: Some of God's characteristics.
The Creator of the universe
Light (all goodness)
With us always
Merciful, gracious, and ever-loving
Faithful and just
Desires all to be saved from sin and eternal death
Loves us more than we can imagine
Cares for each of us as individuals
Knows our hearts
Gives us life and breath
God is the only One who is trustworthy, who is who He says He is, who never changes. Does He sometimes do the unexpected, allow difficult circumstances into our lives, seem to permit evil? Yes, we can all point to such things. Yet we are to trust him in spite of circumstances. (We’ll look more closely at this aspect later in the post.)
Principle #2: Who God is in relation to us
Since we know that God is who he says He is; He loves us more than we can imagine (John 3:16, Romans 5:8); God works out all things for our good (Romans 8:28); Neither His ways nor His thoughts are our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8); and we are no longer our own but were bought with a price (1Corinthians 6:20), then our relationship to God’s sovereignty should be one of humility, faith, trust, and contentment.
Principle #3: Our response to God
There are so many examples in Scripture of humility, faith, trust, and contentment that one could have a series of blog posts just on these attributes. However, for our purposes, I want to discuss just two of those Scripture sections, from Daniel and Habukkuk.
Trusting God in spite of either the circumstance or the outcome
Prior to this passage (Daniel 3:16-28), we learn that the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar wanted all of his subjects to bow down to a statue of him in worship. The three Hebrew friends of Daniel, however, refused, as only God is worthy of worship. They stood strong in their faith. Consequently, they were to suffer the penalty under Babylonian law, to be thrown into fiery furnace.
And then in verses 16-18, we learn their response:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[a] But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Not only did they stand up for their faith, but they humbly trusted in God’s character and recognized His sovereignty over their lives.
Then we learn in verses 19-28, that their stance infuriated the king so much that he ordered his men to make the furnace seven times hotter than normal. The three were thrown into the furnace and then, low and behold, not three but four men were seen walking around. (Spoiler alert: The fourth is Jesus.) The king ordered the three men removed. Not a hair on their heads was singed nor did they even smell of smoke. With that, the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar says something remarkable in verse 28:
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.
Walking by faith and not sight
The Old Testament book Habakkuk is a very short one; it’s only three chapters. But those three chapters offer us some insight into prayer, God’s answer to prayer, God’s sovereignty, and faith.
In Habakkuk 3:17-19 we read:
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.