In October 2010, my view of God’s sovereignty went from theoretical to critical with one phone call. As a longtime Christian, I believed that God numbered all my days. But that idea remained hypothetical as I plowed through busy days as a mom of three young kids. I assumed the years stretched ahead of me for several decades.
Everything changed when I received a cancer diagnosis on the day before my thirty-fourth birthday. The biopsy revealed a rare and aggressive cancer called angiosarcoma, and the five-year survival rate was not encouraging. I knew I might not live long enough for my eighteen-month-old daughter to remember me.
Over the months of treatment and years of survivorship since that day, I’ve wrestled with God’s sovereignty. I don’t question the truth of His rule and reign over all things. I’m grateful that He provided a solid biblical understanding of His character before the phone call came. But I’ve often struggled to find lasting comfort from God’s sovereignty as I look ahead at an uncertain future for my family and me.
Grappling with the Guarantee of God’s Sovereignty
God’s sovereignty guarantees that our heavenly Father reigns over all. We see this truth throughout the Scriptures. In Psalm 135:6, the psalmist says, “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.”
As I endured months of chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and a clinical trial, I knew that the Lord held the outcome in His hands. Every cell in my body—and every cell in the universe—answers to its Creator. As Dr. R.C. Sproul wrote, “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.”1
Here’s the good news: there are no rogue molecules. Nothing can touch us that hasn’t first come through His hands.
But the guarantee of God’s sovereignty is not a promise that terrible things will never happen. Romans 8:28 tells us “that for those who love God all things work together for good.” But this verse doesn’t promise that I won’t die of cancer while my kids are young. There’s no assurance that they won’t suffer, hurt, grieve, or have their lives radically altered by losing a parent. There’s no guarantee that my daughter’s life story won’t start with, “My mom died of cancer when I was ten years old.”
I want a King on the throne and a happy ending for my children. I want His plans to line up with mine. While I find no such guarantee in the pages of His Word, I’m learning to rest in the promise of not only His sovereignty but also His goodness, faithfulness, and provision.
Resting in the Comfort of God’s Character
When I learned that my treatment plan would require spending the majority of my time in Houston for several months, the emotional and logistical impact overwhelmed me. I wondered how we would possibly manage.
But the in-laws of a friend of a friend opened their home to me, and during my first visit I sat in the living room of the woman who would become my “Houston Mom.” Although we had been strangers just days before, we were now connected by our shared faith and cancer experience. I explained that I would be making repeated, lengthy trips to her city, and she asked the question I had been too nervous to voice out loud: “Will you please stay with us every time you come?” Her generosity was just one of the many ways God showed His goodness to us.
In the darkness of my suffering, God shined the light of His sovereignty accompanied by His love, faithfulness, and redemption. He allowed me to see that He’s not just calling the shots; He’s crafting beautiful purposes for His children.
God tells us in His Word that His power knows no rival and His goodness to His children never fails. Nothing can prevent God’s good purposes for us from coming to pass (Job 42:2). Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:38–39). Our Sovereign is also our loving Father.
We also see in God’s Word that He will provide everything we need as we walk through suffering (Phil. 4:19). When I battled cancer, I witnessed His daily provision for our needs. He not only provided a place for me to stay, but He also provided friends to walk alongside me through suffering. He provided His protection for my children’s hearts and minds and His strength for my husband as he juggled work and home responsibilities. Every time fear and grief threatened to consume me, my faithful Shepherd met me in the valley of the shadow of death with His comfort and peace (Ps. 23:4).
As I face the future, it’s dangerous for me to look too far ahead and wonder how we will cope if the cancer recurs. But I can fix my eyes on the Lord’s promises, remember His past faithfulness, and believe He will give us what we need for each future day, no matter how difficult those days might be. Our Sovereign is also our faithful Shepherd.
God’s Word also reminds us that although our future in this world is uncertain, our eternal future is sure. The One who reigns over all gave His Son to redeem us and pay the price for our rebellion against Him (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).
Because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, someday we’ll exchange these weak bodies for ones that will never get sick. Our eyes will behold our King and never again fill with sorrowful tears. These temporary troubles will all pass away (2 Cor. 4:16–5:1). Our Sovereign is also our Savior.
In our darkest days of fear and doubt, we can cling tightly to God’s sovereignty, love, faithfulness, and salvation. These truths don’t bring certainty in our circumstances, but they give comfort as we rest in His character.
Standing on the Truth of God’s Sovereignty
In my final weeks of treatment, I often found myself at the piano playing one song over and over again. The simple arrangement became familiar to my fingers as I belted out the words through determined tears, desperate to believe.
Whate’er my God ordains is right, Here shall my stand be taken,
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine, Yet I am not forsaken,
My Father’s care is round me there,
He holds me that I shall not fall, And so to Him I leave it all.2
As I began to see the storm clouds of suffering part, I looked ahead to a future that was still unknown and shadowed by a possibility of recurrence. It would be years before I planned more than a few months ahead. My physical healing felt as though it was perched on the edge of a cliff, and I never knew when it would topple. As I faced the unknown, God gave me the strength and the faith to say, “Whate’er my God ordains is right.”
Although my medical risk of recurrence has decreased with time, I’m still acutely aware that I don’t know what the future holds. God wisely veils our eyes to the future, but He gives us a solid foundation on which to stand. We can prepare for whatever lies ahead by meditating on the truth of God’s sovereignty. We should stock our spiritual pantries now, because we will need this truth to feast on when trials inevitably come.
In Daniel 11:32, the prophet writes, “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” As we study God’s Word and meditate on the truth of His character, the knowledge of God’s sovereignty will take root so deeply in our hearts that no hardship can shake it.
As we gaze on the sovereignty of God, we don’t see a promise that God will work all things according to our plans. But we receive even more precious promises: the guarantee of His reign over the universe and over our days, the comfort of His loving, faithful, saving purposes for us, and a solid foundation of truth for our times of suffering.
Your future may feel uncertain today, but if you are in Christ, one thing is sure: someday the King of Kings will reach from His throne to wipe away your tears (Rev. 21:4). Until then, I pray that we will cling tightly to the certainty of His sovereignty through any circumstances we face.
Editor’s Note: This post was first published on February 1, 2019.
- R.C. Sproul, Chosen by God (Carol Stream, Ill.: Tyndale, 1986), chap. 2, Kindle. ↩︎
- “Whate’er My God Ordains is Right,” Samuel Rodigast. ↩︎
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 28, 2021.