In the heat of suffering, some find refuge in the sovereign decrees of God. Yet, for others in similar fires, the knowledge of God's sovereign decrees add sorrow upon sorrow. These brothers and sisters can't bear to hear about secret decrees.
Offer to them the Sovereign God who sees all.
"The cross is like a diamond." You've heard that right? That's good. That is true. The Light shines onto the diamond called "gospel" and a unique angle of grace pops out. It's multi-faceted. Now apply that metaphor to the Sovereignty of God.
God's sovereignty is not flat. Flat sovereignty is mysteriously defined and is a kind of sovereignty usually accompanied by verbal hammers or weird apologies. But not true sovereignty. Oh no! God's sovereignty is multi-faceted and that is a good thing. Only robust, Biblical sovereignty has the versatility to bring comfort to all different types of suffering Christians.
Let's consider two facets of the sovereignty diamond: 1) God decrees all things and 2) he sees all things that he decrees.
Like so many other Biblical doctrines, we have to learn that it is not subjective to say "yes" and "yes" to an objective paradox. Affirming two angles of a truth is not rejecting one or the other. Two facets. If you push away God's sovereign seeing then His sovereign decreeing turns into a fine tuned fatalism. Yet, in fear of fatalism, many shy away from the God who decrees. Dualism seems to be an appropriate name for that error. But when multi-faceted sovereignty is embraced, we have truth tools to use as the Spirit leads us to help people with sorrows of all sorts.
Consider an example from Scripture in the life of Sarai. Her plan worked perfectly – Hagar got pregnant. Like most human plans that come true, this one imploded. Sarai hated the fact that Hagar got pregnant. So she held the servant girl in contempt. Hagar was treated so badly by Sarai, homelessness began to seem like a better option than staying put. She fled and found herself by a spring of water. She was pregnant and alone. That's when it happens – God shows up! He brings Hagar comfort by the truth of his seeing. Gen 16:13 – "So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, 'You are the God of seeing' for she said, 'Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.'" How interesting! It was not the truth of God's decrees that brought her comfort but the truth that God sees!
Still others need the comfort of the God who decrees. Consider Job. If you have not read the book of Job in a while, you should revisit it. As you probably know, Job's life goes south. Satan did his work at the bidding of God and Job loses everything. He understandably voices his complaints to the Lord. Go read and consider God's response in chapter 37-38. Did God comfort Job by telling him it was Satan's fault? No, God comforted Job by the declaring of his sovereign decrees. Job needed to know who was really in charge.
Embracing a multi-faceted sovereignty is helpful for pastor and layman alike. As a pastor, I need to be reminded that comforting people with "He sees" is not theology light, but Christlike. And I equally need to know that some cannot bear hearing those words in times of need. For them, they need to be introduced to and reminded of the truth that God is sovereign over all things and is even the one who decrees all things.
Both are true and helpful.