3 Reasons I’m Glad That God is Sovereign Over Tragedy

I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.

Isaiah 45:7

The dictionary defines the word sovereign as, “having supreme rank, power, or authority.” The Bible speaks of God as the One who, “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph 1:11), and the One who, “does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’ (Dan 4:35). Truly, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).

This becomes an issue when we really begin to meditate on what it means that God does ALL that He pleases. “But what about suffering? What about pain? What about death and sickness and all the terrible things that happen on planet earth? Surely God is sovereign over the good, but not the bad things too?” The problem with that way of thinking is that the Bible doesn’t leave us with the option to think God is only somewhat sovereign. He does ALL that he pleases. He has total, unhindered sovereignty. Over the good and the bad. He makes well-being AND calamity. And God owns it: “I am the LORD, who does ALL these things” (Isa 45:7). He uses the stamp of His covenant name to establish that He is the doer of all of it.

I know there are some who find this difficult, but I want to give three reasons why I’m glad that God is sovereign over tragedy.

1. God loves me and cares for me

What a great assurance to know that my sovereign God is not ambivalent towards me. He “loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20). He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for me (Rom 8:32). He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). And this God is sovereign over my tragedy. If not God, then who? Chance? The devil? Imagine if tragedy were pure coincidence? That thing that upset your whole life and changed everything, just chance. Unfeeling, unknowing chance. Or what if it were the devil who was sovereign over tragedy? That hateful, lying, deceitful Satan who intends harm for you orchestrated this life-changing tragedy to bring you to ruin. But grace upon grace, it is GOD who has orchestrated this tragedy for me. The loving, kind, merciful God who loves me and cares for me and intends my good authored this event. Because God cares for me, I love that He is sovereign over tragedy.

2. God is wise

What a comfort to know that the God who orchestrates our injury is the One whose “understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5). I can know that the thing I so badly wish had not happened was executed with perfect wisdom and goodness. God knows me 50 years from now. His perfect understanding sees the state of my soul in eternity. He has the long game in mind as He wounds us. As a nurse, I often have to wound people in order to heal them. The needle sticks, the dressing changes, the terrible medicine. All these things are used to bring the body into a better place. God also, “wounds, but He binds up; He shatters, but His hands heal” (Job 5:18). I am so thankful that a wise and good God is responsible for my tragedy.

3. God is good

God is abundant in goodness (Psalm 31:19). And not only that, but He intends good for me (Rom 8:28). What I must strive to remember is that He works ALL THINGS for my good. Even the tragedy. He is doing for me what I would never do for myself. He is placing me in situations that I would never choose, in order that He might do me the greatest good possible. Joseph, in all his tragedy says to his brothers, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20). And Job did not sin by saying, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). John Newton said it well after the death of his wife:

"His sovereignty is connected with infinite wisdom and goodness. Consequently, if it were possible for me to alter any part of His plan, I could only spoil it. Such a short-sighted creature as I, so blind to the possible consequences of my own wishes, was not only unworthy, but unable to choose well for himself; it was therefore my great mercy and privilege that the Lord condescended to choose for me." 

I pray that you are encouraged to trust in the Lord in the good and the bad. In the light and in the darkness. In well-being and calamity. Knowing that our good, wise, and caring LORD is the One “who does all these things.”

©Jacob Crouch 2023


*Note: I originally wrote this in 2022 after major tragedies in my community, and a few days after my son, who is fine now, had a seizure. In light of what happened in Nashville this week, I thought it a good time to share again. I am rejoicing that God is sovereign.

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