Suffering and the Sovereignty of God:
Ten Aspects of God’s Sovereignty Over
Suffering and Satan’s Hand in It
The impetus for this book comes from the ultimate reality of God as
the supreme value in and above the universe.
God is absolute and
eternal and infinite.
Everything else and everybody else is dependent and
finite and contingent.
God himself is the great supreme value.
else that has any value has it by connection to God.
God is supreme in
He has all authority, all power, all wisdom—and he is all good
“to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him” (Lam.
And his name, as Creator and Redeemer and Ruler of all, is Jesus Christ.
In the last few years, 9~/11, tsunamis, Katrina, and ten thousand personal
losses have helped us discover how little the American church is
rooted in this truth.
David Wells, in his new book, /Above All Earthly/
/Pow’rs//: Christ in a Postmodern World,/ says it like this:
This moment of tragedy and evil [referring to 9*~/*11] shone its own light
on the Church and what we came to see was not a happy sight.
what has become conspicuous by its scarcity, and not least in the evangelical
corner of it, is a spiritual /gravitas/, one which could match the
depth of horrendous evil and address issues of such seriousness.
Evangelicalism, now much absorbed by the arts and tricks of marketing,
is simply not very serious anymore.1
he Sovereignty of God:
In other words, our vision of God in relation to evil and suffering was
shown to be frivolous.
The church has not been spending its energy to
go deep with the unfathomable God of the Bible.
Against the overwhelming
weight and seriousness of the Bible, much of the church is
choosing, at this very moment, to become more light and shallow and
entertainment-oriented, and therefore successful in its irrelevance to
massive suffering and evil.
The popular God of fun-church is simply too
small and too affable to hold a hurricane in his hand.
The biblical categories
of God’s sovereignty lie like land mines in the pages of the Bible
waiting for someone to seriously open the book.
They don’t kill, but they
do explode trivial notions of the Almighty.
So my prayer for this book is that God would stand forth and
reassert his Creator-rights in our lives, and show us his crucified and
risen Son who has all authority in heaven and on earth, and waken in
us the strongest faith in the supremacy of Christ, and the deepest comforts
in suffering, and the sweetest fellowship with Jesus that we have
The contributors to this volume have all suffered, some more visibly
You don’t need to know the details.
Suffice it to say that
none of them is dealing with a theoretical issue in this book.
in the world of pain and loss where you live.
They are aware that some
people reading this book are dying.
There are people who love those
who are dying; people who live with chronic pain; people who have just
lost one of the most precious persons in their life; people who do not
believe in the goodness of God—or in God at all—who count this book
their one last effort to see if the gospel is real.
People who are about to
enter a time of suffering in their life for which they are totally unprepared.
These authors are not naïve about life or about who you are.
are glad you are reading this book—all of you.
And we pray that you
will never be the same again.
The approach I am going to take in this chapter is not to solve any
problem directly, but to celebrate the sovereignty of God over Satan and
his sovereignty over all the evils that Satan has a hand in.
is that letting God speak his word will awaken worship—like Job’s—and
worship will shape our hearts to understand whatever measure of God’s
mystery he wills for us to know.
What follows is a celebration of “Ten
Aspects of God’s Sovereignty Over Suffering and Satan’s Hand in It.”
And what I mean in this chapter when I say that God is sovereign is not
merely that God has the /power and right /to govern all things, but that he
/does// /govern all things, for his own wise and holy purposes.
Let Us Celebrate That God Is Sovereign Over Satan’s*
*Delegated World Rule*
Satan is sometimes called in the Bible “the ruler of this world” (John
12:31; 14:30; 16:11), or “the god of this world” (2 Cor.
4:4), or “the
prince of the power of the air” (Eph.
2:2), or a “cosmic power over this
present darkness” (Eph.
This means that we should probably take
him seriously when we read in Luke 4:5-7 that “the devil took [Jesus]
up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,
and said to him, ‘To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for
it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.