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If God Did It, It Must Be Good. Right? – Tim Challies

The sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which the child of God rests his head at night, giving perfect peace. So said the inimitable Charles Spurgeon. Or did he? He might have said, When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head. Or maybe he said both, or maybe he said something halfway between. Either way, its clear that in Spurgeons dark hours he found comfort in a particular attribute of God: his sovereignty.

Sovereignty speaks to power and the right to reign. Gregg Allison says its the divine attribute of being all-powerful as the King and Lord who exercises supreme rule over all creation. He goes on to explain that this supreme rule includes, among other things, Gods decrees regarding creation, providence, redemption, and consummation; the infallible, meticulous outworking of that plan in each and every aspect of it; and the sure salvation of genuine Christians. Gods sovereignty is a sweeping doctrine that touches every aspect of life across every moment of creation and every corner of the universe. There is no moment, no spot, no deed, no death that falls outside of it.

Gods sovereignty has, indeed, offered comfort in these dark days. It has assured us that there was no earthly power, no demonic power, no power above or below, that had its way with our boy, that interrupted and superseded Gods plan for him. There was no moment in which God turned his back, or got distracted with other affairs, or nodded off to sleep. There was no medical deformity or genetic abnormality (or whatever else could cause a young man to collapse and die) that had been overlooked by God. Gods sovereignty has assured us that it was ultimately no ones will but Gods that Nick lived just 20 short years. Young Nick, like old Enoch, walked with God and was not, for God took him.

But while Gods sovereignty offers comfort, it offers comfort only if we know something of his character. After all, God might be sovereign and capricious. He might be sovereign and selfish. He might be sovereign and arbitrary. He might be sovereign and evil. So for this reason weve had to take a harder look at God. Weve had to ask, What else is true of God?

If we are laying our heads on any pillow in these days, it is the pillow of Gods character, and especially Gods goodness. We keep saying it: God is good. We may be saying it with sorrow and bewilderment and something less than full faith. We might be saying it as a question: God is good, right? But we are saying it. We dont necessarily understand how God is good in this, or why taking our son is consistent with his goodness, but we know it must be. If Nicks death was not a lapse in Gods sovereignty, it was also not a lapse in his goodness. If there was no moment in which God stopped being sovereign there is no moment in which he stopped being goodgood toward us, good toward Nick, good according to his perfect wisdom. God cant not be good.

Wayne Grudem says that the goodness of God means that God is the final standard of good, and that all that God is and does is worthy of approval. Those things that are good are those things that God deems good, that God deems fitting, that God deems appropriate. For something to be good is for it to meet the approval of God and for something to meet the approval of God is for it to be good. If thats the case, then who are we to declare evil what God has declared good? Who are we to condemn what God has approved? It falls to us to align our own understanding of goodness with Gods, to rely on Gods understanding of good to inform our own. Ultimately its to agree that if God did it, it must be good, and if it is good it must be worthy of approval. To say Thy will be done is to say Thy goodness be shown.

Many years ago Aileen and I staked our lives, our souls, our eternities on the claims of the Christian faith. We declared that this God was not only the God, but our God. We acknowledged his sovereignty and his goodness, his right to rule in the ways he deems good, in the ways he deems best. We have never doubted that Gods sovereignty and goodness were displayed in giving us our boy. We are fighting right now to never doubt that Gods sovereignty and goodness were displayed in taking away our boy. He was a gift we received with such joy, such gratitude, such praise. He was a gift we are releasing with such pain, such sadness, such sorrow. But, as much as we can, we are releasing him with confidence that somehow his death is an expression of the good sovereignty of a good God. This is the God who does all that he pleases, and for whom all that he pleases is good. As we blessed him in the giving, we will bless him in the taking.

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