Is God really in control?

broken world.jpg

BY PASTOR ART

ENCOUNTER

Psalm 73 is listed as “A Psalm of Asaph.” No one is really certain about what that means. Perhaps it was written by Asaph. But this could also be a reference to a style of psalm, a way of dating the psalm, or simply a way of cataloguing the psalm. What there is much less doubt about, however, is the point of the psalm. This is a song about the sovereignty of God and, more specifically, the worshiping community’s angst about it.

Jealous envy and the way out of it is the primary and obvious focus. What’s a bit less obvious, though, is whether or not God is good, just, and even aware. The first verse introduces the theological presupposition that, for the next 13 verses, is called into question. And as we read them, we too are invited to get in touch with some of the same feelings and frustrations the psalmist records, the main question being, “If God does see, and if he is good, then is he actually able to do anything about the evil that seems to be rewarded with an easy life and substantially accelerated means?” In other words, “He may well be in control of tomorrow, but Is God in control of TODAY?”

BE REFLECTIVE

This question of God’s sovereignty and the detail with which he exercises it has been argued almost from the first day people sat around an open fire and pondered HIS existence and character. Needless to say, it’s an ancient conundrum – an enigma for the ages. There is quite a bit less question about whether or not God is in control of the future … of ultimate historical outcomes (though some wonder about even that). But does he regulate (and, at least in my mind therefore, is he responsible for) the details of history – the specific and even minute occurrences of each day?

Other ways to ask the same (or related) questions:

  • Is it possible for God’s will to be thwarted?
  • Does God’s will always happen?
  • Is human “free will” actually a reality?
  • Is it possible to be in control of everything that happens without also being responsible for everything that happens?

Here are some texts to ponder as you reflect on the frustrations of Psalm 73. These are specific verses that seem to contribute to the topic, but please read surrounding context too:

  • I John 5:19
  • Romans 6:12
  • Ephesians 6:12-16
  • II Corinthians 4:4

BE A BLESSING

Those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus have chosen to submit to his leadership – to place ourselves under the control and guidance of his Holy Spirit. II Thessalonians 2 implies that there is a “restrainer” that limits the aggressive nature of evil. No one knows for certain who or what that restrainer is, but many suspect that this is a reference to the Church – the community of Christians that, while awaiting the return of Jesus, is busy blessing and caring for people who fall prey to the brokenness of our fallen world.

Think of a member of your family who has really been “under it” recently. Pray three things for them:

  1. that they would be protected by God;
  2. that they would be AWARE of who is protecting them; and
  3. that they might know him (or know him better) and his goodness as a result of their challenge – confessing that great line that's recorded toward the end of Psalm 73, “WHOM HAVE I IN HEAVEN BUT THEE, O GOD; AND BESIDES THEE, I DESIRE NOTHING ON EARTH.”

OH YA, AND A PHONE CALL OR OLD FASHIONED LETTER MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA TOO.