As I look back on my life, there are a number of highs and lows. I’ve held my newborn kids as they’ve taken their first breath, and a friend as he took his last. There are times when I’ve seen God’s hand as clear as mine, and there are times when he’s felt distant and silent. My guess is that you see the same thing in the rear view mirror. One of the things I’ve noticed is that it’s easier for me to trust God’s sovereignty in the good times than it is to trust it in the hard times. What about you?
As I read and studied Daniel 1, there was a phrase that stood out because it was repeated three times. Listen to all three of the occurrences:
2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand…
9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs…
17 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
One of the things Daniel is able to do is grasp God’s sovereignty in both the good and the bad; in the joy and in the sorrow. The Lord is sovereign over their 70 years of exile in Babylon, and he is responsible for the favor and blessing he gets while he’s there. Daniel understands what his ancestor Job declared, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10)
We can’t have it both ways, if God is responsible for the good, he must also be, at least in part, responsible for the bad.
I am not saying, and Daniel isn’t implying, that God’s ultimate control of people and nations turns us into mere marionettes; God is not the grand puppeteer. We do have freedom and our choices matter. God’s sovereign control simply means that there are no accidents and his plans ultimately will not be thwarted. He is the grand weaver, taking the fragments of our broken lives and shaping them into his grand story. The trouble is, we are often far more aware of Babylon’s dominance than we are of God’s presence.
Daniel’s claim “God gave” was his reminder that no matter what happened, he was committed to remembering that his God was bigger than Babylon. Yahweh was greater than exile. Which invites the question: How big is our God? Bigger than COVID? Bigger than bankruptcy? Bigger than divorce? Bigger than disorientation? As the song God of the Ages appropriately states: “God of this morning, gladly your children worship before You, trustingly bow: Teach us to know You — always among us, quietly sovereign — Lord of our now.”
Take a moment today to trustingly bow and recognize God’s quiet sovereignty — in your life, in our church, in this nation, and around the globe.