“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
As the jet ascended, Chicago’s city lights overtook the night, light saturating the terrain. It engulfed the darkness, and I marveled at its radiance. Cars became pin pricks in the distance. A clearly designed grid, created by humans minds, glowed against the black sky. From above there was order in neat squares.
To the right I could still see the rise of giant skyscrapers. Straight ahead the light ended abruptly; Lake Michigan was ink against the line of fire. It was an ethereal beauty, a peaceful calm, far removed from the congested streets, the homelessness, the hundreds of thousands of stories, the real-life struggles. Too soon though, the city’s brilliance receded into the distance. And there was darkness. How feeble was the light of much smaller towns. Light no longer engulfed the night.
But at 30,000 feet, I understood that darkness existed only in pockets. The inky patches didn’t frighten me because I could tell they didn’t last forever. Other cities, other towns slid into view. The light of one city emanated like spokes of a wheel, illumination concentrated at a central hub. Over other cities, light sprawled without any discernible pattern but still in magnificent contrast to the night.
From my vantage point, light interrupted darkness, darkness interrupted light, a constant ebb and flow. It reminded me of life- joy mingled with sorrow, sorrow mingled with joy.
“I could stay here, removed from the grit and messiness. I could stay in the place where I can see the grand design.”
Then my thoughts funneled to a single truth. God is sovereign. I am not. He is above all things. He understands all things. He is in control over all things. He sees the beginning and the end, the dark patches and the light.
Unlike a pilot, He doesn’t merely know the final destination, He sees the entire journey at once. I cannot claim to fully understand, but I know He guides all things. Through grief, I’ve learned to mine the depth of God’s sovereignty, and I’ve found it immensely comforting. God was sovereign over Jon’s death.
God knew the number of his days. (Psalm 139) My husband was supposed to die.
A high view of God’s sovereignty keeps me grounded in the reality that nothing could have thwarted His will. There were no imaginary days. The “what ifs” don’t exist. Likewise, though I long for an aerial view, God’s mercy limits my sight to the ground-level path in front of me.
Perhaps if I knew the future I would run away, afraid to face what is to come.
Of course, I would never trade loving and being so deeply loved by my husband! But had I glimpsed the future, would I have even started down the path with him. Would I have looked across time and accepted becoming a widow at 30?
Probably not. I might I have said, “Well Jonathan Atkins, you’re a wonderful guy, but there’s too much pain in that path. I’m not heading toward a world shattered and turned upside down.”
I might not have cared about the magnificent, radiant light that is following my the sea of ink. I may have said, “That darkness is too big, the night encompasses too much.”
Praise God I cannot see the aerial view! At ground level, He teaches me to trust Him. The One who sees the final city, will lead me safely to it.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” II Corinthians 4:17
Because I know God is sovereign, I know He has purpose. Nothing is arbitrary. No circumstances are futile. His plan is good, even when it includes immense, dark patches of suffering and trial. I know that’s a hard thing to hear. I’m right there with you! But let our frightened hearts rest in radical truth. For the Christian, darkness is swallowed by light. Through deepest black, Jesus is incomprehensible light.
He is peace that passes understanding. He is joy even in sorrow.
Though He is transcendent, He is also imminent. He is here. He is close. My Lord is not content to dwell far removed from the grit. Rather, He is also personal, deeply intimate, and close at hand when darkness seems to overwhelm. In His goodness He gives seas of ink. And In His goodness He gives cities of magnificent light.
Lord you are sovereign. You are in control over all things, and no one can thwart your plan. You are transcendent, but you are also personal. Thank you that my Savior is intimately acquainted with grief, and walks through darkness with me. You are radiant light. You are joy. I rest here today.
This post by Ami, appeared first at anewseason.net.
11 thoughts on “God is Sovereign. I am not.”
Ami, thank you for sharing your amazing insight and connections. I am so happy I met you. You inspire me to do better and to look at my day differently. I am so happy God put you in my life. Keep up the ministry. Stacie Young
Stacie, thank you so much! Your words are truly encouraging. Jon lived daily for Christ and the gospel. He was so passionate about people knowing Jesus. That’s what I want to be about also. It’s only grace that gives me these perspectives. Left to myself I would have been utterly hopeless after Jon died.- But Jesus is my confident expectation and He has carried me abundantly through the fire and the water. I don’t have it all figured out, and I definitely struggle, but it is true that sometimes we know God more in the valley. I’m so glad to get to meet you as well! You bless and encourage me!
Thank you so very much. My husband died unexpectedly last December 17 at the age of 45. We have four teenage children. He was the pastor of our church, my best friend, teammate and love of my life. Your words and blog are an inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing.
Kim, my heart aches with you. My husband’s death was unexpected also. And we dreamed of ministry together as well. He was going to become one of the pastors of our church in summer 2013, but he died in January 2013. I so relate to–“best friend, teammate, love of my life.” Thank you for your encouragement! Praying right now for you– praying especially as you approach the first holiday season. with love, Ami
thank you ami for your words and insights. after my mom died 4 days before my birthday in 2011, I spent 2 years being my dad’s caregiver. he died when he was 75. one week after my dad’s death , my husband (there is 17 years difference between us ) was given 3-6 months to live, the end stages of copd. he passed the 3 month mark then the 6 month mark. I begin to block out my husband.s illness. hard due to the oxygen machine, pills and inhalers, but I shut my brain off. tafter one of his falls ,then he caught a cold on palm sunday. by easter sunday I thought for sure I would wake up next to him, dead. he finally went to the doctors. new steroids, new antibiotics. he devolped shingles, would not go to the hospital. only took aspirin. then his mind began wandering and he was falling. he fell and this time I could not get him up. I called 911. I had to step over him to get to the phone and he is grabbing my leg telling me no, don’t call. ambulance comes, off to er. er wants to keep him, besides the shingles, copd ,he had a uti. he convinces everyone he would accept nursing care at home. husband keeps falling. at one point both of us stayed on the floor for almost 3 hours, it was the middle of the night, and I was having trouble getting ahold of family, and hubby wouldn’t let me call 911 again. so visiting nurse comes, hubby gets up, he wanted to show the nurse he was ok, falls right in front of her, and 911 was called again. beg of may hubby was admitted to hospital, then transferred to a rehab center to get his strength back, walking and memory etc I brought hubby back home ( hospice) on june 6 and he died on his birthday june 13. and I still can’t stand it. too many what ifs, too many I should haves. I miss him so much. I don’t know how I will cope through the holidays, thanksgiving and Christmas was my husband bruce,s favorite holidays.sorry this is so long. .
Hi Willie, I just saw this. So sorry, I would have answered sooner. I’m so sorry for all the loss you’ve experienced.My heart aches with you. But I do know that the what ifs and I should haves wouldn’t have changed anything. God knew the number of your husband’s days. It’s very possible that from a human perspective some medical mistakes were made regarding my husband’s cardiology care, but God uses even human mistakes to bring about His plan. I know that the holidays can be really rough, but I also know that God gives grace. Last year as I approached all the firsts, someone told me “Expect grace.”- That really helped keep my focus right through the holidays! Jon and I loved Thanksgiving and Christmas together as well, but God gave so much grace to cherish the memories and also allow there to be knew ones. I’m right there with you. It hurts… But run to Christ in your pain. Praying for you right now! ~Ami