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Episode 51 - The Goodness Of A Sovereign God In The Midst Of Affliction


I want to start by reading a poem I came across the other day that stopped me in my tracks. Mainly because it’s a letter from God to His child, and I felt like He was speaking directly to me. This poem is by May Prentiss Smith.

“Child of My love, lean hard and let Me feel the pressure of your care.

I know your burden, child, I shaped it;

Balanced it in My own hand, made no proportion in its weight to your unaided strength.

For even as I laid it on, I said, ‘I will be near, and while she leans on Me, this burden will be Mine, not hers. So, I will keep My child within the circling arm of My own love.’

Here, lay it down, nor fear to impose it on a shoulder that upholds the government of worlds.

Yet, closer come; You are not near enough. I would embrace your care, so I might feel My child reclining on My breast.

You love Me, I know. So then do not doubt; But, loving Me, lean hard.”

Today, I want to talk about the goodness of a Sovereign God in the midst of affliction, loss, and sorrow. You may have recognized this kind of talk when I read the poem. Oh, it’s definitely there.

Several years before Brian died, I came to a real settling in my soul. It was the understanding that God was in total control of everything. There was nothing that He didn’t know about beforehand, nor anything that took Him by surprise. In fact, there were two verses that solidified it all for me: 1 Chronicles 29:11 says that everything in Heaven and everything on earth belongs to God. He rules over it all. And Romans 11:36 tells us that everything comes from God and exists by his power and is intended for His glory. So, everything created, seen and unseen, in the heavens or on the earth belongs to Him and He rules over it all. All created, seen and unseen. He rules. And all these things, seen or unseen, were created by Him, exists by the power of His hand that upholds them, and were created that they might bring glory to Him. All of it. Am I getting my point across clear enough?

There is nothing that comes or goes in my life that is not ordained or approved of by God’s great love for me. Ecclesiastes 6:10 says, “Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to dispute with One stronger than he.” The Bible Commentary says that to “name” something is to exercise authority over it. We see the first example of this in Genesis 2:19 and 20 when Adam was naming the animals God had made. The author of Ecclesiastes thus confesses that God rules over all things, and he points out that it would be foolish for mankind to dispute with God’s sovereign ordering of the world.

From the very first day I saw Brian in my girls’ dorm at college, to our first date and then

marriage, God knew that in this place in time I would lose my husband to suicide. In fact, this was my path; this is what was supposed to happen. Sometimes that is a hard pill to swallow, especially because my heart is shattered, and it hurts so much. It just doesn’t seem right. It may have been a shock to my whole being, but God already knew it was coming. He knew it back when I said, “I do.” It’s crazy and mind blowing to think on this truth. But because it is true, because “whatever has come to be has already been named,” I must be able to handle it now.

There is, however no more erroneous statement than “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” This is just not true. Not at all. But this statement is altogether true: “God won’t give you any more than He can handle.” Mother Teresa felt like the challenges that were laid upon her was because God knew He could trust her with them. She said, “I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” Sadly, this is not true either. First, she said, “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.” We already established that this is not true. We get laid upon us all kinds of things we ourselves can’t handle. All kinds of things! But God can handle it all. So, when those hard things come, it would be foolish to blame, accuse, run from the very One who says, “I will be near, and when she leans on Me, this burden will be Mine, not hers.” The very One - the only One who can carry such a heavy, heavy burden.

Now, it may be tempting to say, “What kind of loving God would lay such a burden on someone?” The problem here is two-fold: 1) Many of the burdens we bear are by our own doing, a product of our own sin, or the sin within this fallen world, and 2) we do not have the divine capacity to understand the ways of God. Isaiah 55 verses 8 and 9 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” How could we possibly be so arrogant as to think we could understand God’s ways? Yet, our feeble, limited, human minds like to think as though we could figure Him all out. Truly, aren’t’ you glad you can’t? How big of a God could He really be if you could? There is something you can figure out about God, though, and that is His character. In Exodus 34 verses 6 and 7, God says of Himself, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”

This is the God who says to you, “Child of My love, lean hard and let Me feel the presence of Your care.” Friend, in your affliction He wants desperately for you to come to Him. And it’s in these times when we feel completely spent and empty. And this is exactly when we need to lean hard into the One who can fill us up with His mercy and grace, His abounding, steadfast love and unending faithfulness, forgiving us for our fear and doubt and lack of faith in Him. This One! In our affliction, we need more and more and more of Him, the One who takes our burden. The Sovereign of all things; the One whose shoulder upholds the government of worlds. This One is who we need to come closer to in our affliction. A quote by Nancy Spiegelberg reverberates in my soul and quickens my sluggish feet to move to this One. Ms. Spiegelberg said, “Lord, I crawled across the bareness to You with my empty cup. If only I had known You better, I’d have come running with a bucket.”

Oh, how I’ve come to Him with my little cup for Him to fill it up, when what He really wants to do is flood my soul and my life with His blessings. In Psalm 81, King David is singing a Psalm to the people, and through the Holy Spirit, God is telling His people He would take care of them. He is reminding them of all that He had done for them in the past. He reminds them He is their strength, because He is in covenant with them, and He will powerfully protect, support, and deliver them. To them in verse 10, God says, “Open thy mouth ever so wide that I may fill it.” Matthew Henry’s commentary on this Psalm says, quote “He, God, who fights their battles and makes them do valiantly and victoriously, He is the strength of every Israelite. By His grace we are enabled to go through all our services, sufferings, and conflicts. And to Him, as our strength, we must pray and sing praise to Him.”

Looking back, I can see how God had made provisions for me ahead of time for my future. My God was putting all the pieces together. And He’s always working on what’s next and will lay it before me when it’s ready saying, “Here, child, child of My love, walk this way. Take this step” (Isaiah 30:21). As I reflect on God’s message to the Israelites, reminding them how much He loves and cares for them; reminding them of all that He has done - and proof that He can do it again - I find myself longing to hear His audible voice saying the same to me. Or maybe just a note written with lipstick on my bathroom mirror will do! Why is it that I need so much confirmation or proof, for my own life, even after I’ve seen all the ways He’s loved and cared for me before? Have you felt this way, too, friend?

Why can’t I just rest in the character of who He is and not worry about the future? Why can’t I just trust and believe He will provide? Why do I find myself wringing my hands, worrying about the future? My fear exposes my true faith, or lack thereof. It’s me of little faith. Me with an empty, little teacup asking Him to fill it, when really, He’s urging me to find the biggest bucket I can as He pours out blessing after blessing after blessing on my life.

Friend, what do you come with? What’s in your hand? Have you crawled through the bareness to get to Him, and all you’ve brought is that little teacup? Can I let you borrow my bucket? It’s really big! Do you want to use it? Because do you hear His voice calling to you,

“Child of My love, lean hard and let Me feel the pressure of your care. Yet, closer come; You are not near enough. I would embrace your care, so I might feel My child reclining on My breast.

You love Me, I know. So then do not doubt; But, loving Me, lean hard. Love, Abba”

Friend, if you would like someone to help you work through some of these difficult truths about God’s Sovereignty in affliction, I’d love to be your coach and mentor. There are hard burdens in life we weren’t meant to carry alone. I’d love to help you sort some of this out.

I’ve put a link in the show notes to my calendar to book at quick 30-minute chat to see if we’re a good fit. Or you can visit my website and send me an email there.

Have a great week and lean into to Jesus. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.

Calendar Link for a free Life Coaching Consult Call:

Don’t forget to go to my website to get your 3 Guided Worksheets for personal development that complement my podcast episodes. They’re free, and I pray you’ll find some healing and freedom there.

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