God is more than sovereign.
As soon as my first child was born, I knew there was a problem. The doctor was focused and serious. The nurses called for help and began moving faster. Something was wrong. Suddenly, Madelyn was placed in my arms, and I was asked to follow the nurse immediately to the Natal Intensive Care Unit. The feeling of unsettledness was multiplied since my wife and I had been battling infertility for the past two years. As I walked, I watch the face of my precious newborn daughter turn blue.
I stood stroking the head of my baby as family unaware of the situation waved joyously from a nearby window. The mixed emotions of that moment are indescribable.
My wife and I lay down with the weight of our daughter’s uncertain future bound to our hearts, weeping late into the night. In a makeshift bed beside hers, I reached up and held her hand. I was so confused. We had prayed and prayed for a baby. We had served God faithfully for years. Why was this happening? How did this fit into my theological framework?
I was trained in a discipline that focused on the sovereignty of God, and I’m grateful for that. It has centered my life on someone beyond myself; nevertheless, the primary and almost exclusive characteristic of the nature of God promoted was his sovereignty. As a result, I found a theological formula that was inadequate in this moment of distress. Something important was missing. After all, if God is like Hitler, his sovereignty brings no comfort. I did not doubt God’s sovereignty in this moment. What I was struggling with was his goodness.
Sovereignty alone was no longer sufficient.
Is God good? As I reflected upon this question, I had a decision to make. If the answer was “yes,” then that answer had to hold even if God allowed my child to die. My circumstances could not determine the extent of his goodness since goodness is part of the very nature of who he is.
Weeping, praying, and meditating upon various passages, I surrendered to the twin truths that, yes, God is sovereign, and he is also good.
With that, I sat up and shared these thoughts with my wife. I sobbed out a prayer as we embraced surrendering the fate of our daughter to a good and sovereign God. Gratefully, God spared my daughter’s life, but God is not good for the benefits he provides. He is good because that is part of the very nature of who he is.
So, as I now minister to others in their time of need, I find that many are not struggling with his sovereignty but with his goodness. I find that they need to be reminded that God is good in the very nature of who he is even when the good of the moment is hidden from our limited sight.