There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust
Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us
– Sovereign Over Us, Michael W. Smith

Learning to trust is maybe the most difficult of all of these wilderness lessons.  Isn’t it, though?
We trust…until.  Until something goes wrong.  Until someone fails us, disappoints us, hurts us, doesn’t meet our expectations, etc.  We trust conditionally.  After an incident of wrongdoing or failure on the other person’s part, we stand self-righteously with our arms crossed, daring them to prove themselves trustworthy again.
And we don’t make it easy on them, do we?  With or without words, we let them know that they’ve failed us, and now, good luck winning back our trust!
And we do this with God, too, when we don’t get our way or we don’t like what He’s doing.  All of the sudden, we forget all about His goodness and His love towards “such a worm as I”, and we shake our fist at the heavens.  Or worse, we give God the silent treatment.  Punishing Him, I suppose. Expecting Him to give in to our desires by not speaking to Him.  (As if God Almighty will start pacing His throne room, worrying about how to get back into our good graces.)
This song “Sovereign Over Us” really puts it all into perspective for me.  One night (not so very long ago) when I was especially distraught over this whole wilderness thing, I put it on repeat and let its truth wash over me.  I wept as God’s presence filled the room, reassuring me that yes, He is still with me, and yes, He is truly sovereign over all.
And the words of the bridge were especially impactful in that special moment with my faithful Friend:

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good
You turn it for our good and for Your glory
Even in the valley, You are faithful
You’re working for our good
You’re working for our good and for Your glory!

This reminded me that one, this life is so much bigger than my little plans and wishes. It’s not all about me- it’s about God molding me into His image and Him revealing His glory through me.  And two, even when it seems that the enemy of my soul has gotten the last laugh, my God turns it around on him!  HE gets the last laugh!  He’s not up in Heaven wondering how He’s going to “fix things”.  He’s SOVEREIGN.  That means He’s got it covered!!  He knew it was coming, He’s allowed it, and He’ll get you through it.

You know what else?  Not only is He Sovereign, but He’s also good and faithful and trustworthy.  He doesn’t wield His power just to strut His stuff, but to work and to do in us His good pleasure!  How do we know this?
1. His Word
His Word tells us He’s good, and it also tells us He has exalted His Word above His name, so He must fulfill it!  He has bound Himself to every written letter of the Bible (Matthew 5:18).  On top of that, the Bible says that no word of God returns to Him void without accomplishing what He set it out to do (Isaiah 55:11).  We can stand on the promises of the written Word about the Living Word!

The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.
Psalms 145:9

O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
1 Chronicles 16:34

2. Our story
Look back on past miracles!  Remember His goodness to you then.  Remind yourself of every time that He came through for you.  Every time He comforted you with His presence.  Every time He protected you from death and destruction.  Every time He rescues you in the nick of time.  He hasn’t changed!  The Bible says that His love endures forever, and that His faithfulness unto all generations.  He is the One who is, who was, and who is to come! “I change not!”, God says (Malachi 3:6).
3. The stories of others
Look around at the miracles and wonders that He is doing in the lives of those around you.  Who has He healed lately?  Who has received a financial miracle lately?  Who has good things to say about God?  Hang around them!  Encourage yourself in their testimony.  He loves you just as much as He loves them- He’s on the way!!  He’ll come through for you, too!

So knowing all of this, our question becomes, if God is so good and so faithful and sovereign, then why is He allowing this pain and heartache?  Why is He standing by while your heart gets stomped on?  Why does He do nothing when He sees you are on the verge of a breakdown?  (Or you’ve already had a breakdown and you’re trying to put the pieces of your heart and mind back together and still He does nothing?)

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Romans 8:28-29, NET

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are called to be conformed to His image- to be holy as He is holy.  To be perfected in His holiness.  To be made beautiful as He is beautiful.  You see?  God is perfecting us through suffering.  Molding us into His image.  Just as Jesus Christ suffered and was received into glory (1 Timothy 3:16), we too, will be exalted and received into glory with Him!  We will come forth as gold, tried in the fire!

Read this with me:

For it became him [Jesus], for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Hebrews 2:10, KJV

Jesus was made perfect through suffering- how can we expect it to be any different for us?

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18, NKJV

God is saying to each of us today, “Trust me, my son, my daughter! I’m perfecting you! I’m molding you into my image!  I’m making you beautiful through suffering- but this suffering’s got nothing on the glory that I will reveal in you!  Walk with me through this wilderness, and you will come out on the other side, beautiful, perfected in My love, strengthened in My might, and molded into My image.  Trust Me, my child!”

My prayer for each of you today:

“Lord Jesus, I pray for my brothers and sisters who are reading this today. Help them to cling to Your faithful hand and TRUST that You are working out all things for their good and for Your glory! Uproot every lie of the enemy that would bring discouragement, fear, or unbelief into their hearts, and place Your Truth deep inside of them. You are so good, and we can trust Your sovereign plan! We can trust that You are with us every step of the way, that this, too, shall come to pass, and that we will come out of our wilderness victorious and rejoicing! In Jesus’ name we trust and pray, Amen!”

photo credit: med-8324 via photopin (license)

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