God’s sovereignty is a topic that sounds so churchy, formal, and daunting. While I am not here to talk so much about the theology side, I do want to discuss the application. In our ever-connected, never-stop society, I would like to focus on how we, as believers, find calm in the chaos. I do acknowledge that I cannot adequately cover such a topic in 1 post, 1 chapter, or even 1 book. What I would like to do is discuss how God’s sovereignty relates to fear, anxiety, and perspective.
While this post is not exhaustive on God’s sovereignty, these guidelines should aid our discussion. As we look at God’s sovereignty, we will focus primarily on God’s authority and control. The word sovereign in this context means ruler, king, Lord, or one who holds supreme power. We will explore these parts as they relate to our mental health and perspective.
Before we get into the finer details, let us look at the basic concepts here.
God holds supreme authority over everything, everywhere. He is all-powerful(omnipotent). There is no one higher, and nothing happens unless God allows it.
Everything happens according to God’s will, intention, and plan.
Shaping Our Perspective
In my post, 4 Ways God’s Love Could Change Your Life, I started discussing how God’s love should shape our perspective. I want to discuss how living with an awareness of God’s sovereignty could also impact our outlook for good. These are practical, powerful weapons to use in battle.
Our perspective often determines if we yield to fear or choose to fight. It gives us the ability to endure, to persevere. It allows us to dust ourselves off when we get knocked down. Perspective changes our attitude. It softens our hearts. It gives us courage. It allows us to keep going when no one is watching. It helps us to press on to reach the heavenly prize. (Philippians 3:14)
Let us begin with the description of authority from just a few paragraphs before. We see that God holds supreme rule over everything, everywhere. Nothing happens that he does not allow. We can then combine this with the truth that God is all-knowing(omniscient), present everywhere(omnipresent), and all-powerful(omnipotent).
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” Colossians 1:15-17 NLT
My friends, I know we often act like we have it all together for the sake of those around us, but this is not the time for that. When we are scared, overwhelmed, or our mind is racing with anxiety, we need a good reminder of God’s authority. A reminder helps ground us and bring everything back into a proper perspective.
Anxiety derails us because it significantly distorts our worldview. It causes our brains to be hyper-focused on what could be or what might happen. We see through a lens shaped by our past trauma and fear. Perspective helps us to see life through a different lens—a lens that might not be without flaws but one that is significantly less clouded by fear.
Suppose we believe that God is in control. We agree everything happens according to God’s will, intention, plan, or purpose.
Do you believe that?
Whether your answer is “yes/no,” changes everything. Saying “yes” means that everything that happens to you is within God’s plan. It is not an accident. God did not forget, overlook you, ignore your life or your well-being. We may forget this fact, but it does not change it. Our struggles, setbacks, victories, and losses all play a part in God’s plan. Nothing from our past gets wasted.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28 NLT
In my post, Fear & Perspective – Recognize Your Options, I highlight the loss of a job as the root of my fear and anxiety. Losing this job was one traumatic event in a series of events or circumstances which would knock my life off course. Were all of these events occurrences outside of God’s authority or control? Did God allow them?
When trauma occurs, it is common for doubt to creep into our lives. It truly makes you evaluate what you believe. If I accept what I wrote in the preceding paragraphs above as accurate, I would see that all of these events or circumstances were under God’s authority and control. After 17 years of healing, I see God’s purpose, but you better believe that I questioned God along the way.
In 2011, while working full-time for Apple, I chose to go back to school to get my Bachelor’s in Mobile Development online at Full Sail University. I already had a bachelor’s in Business Management. Still, I wanted something to prepare me for a career as a Mobile App Developer. I felt I needed a stamp of approval or sign to let others know I knew what I was doing.
A Solid Foundation
Full Sail Online(FSO) offered one of the few 4-year equivalent bachelor programs in the Mobile Development industry. When I started the program, I was one of sixteen students in the inaugural class. The foundation coursework was essentially the same as the well-established web development program. The kinks in these classes were all but gone.
A Beta Version At Best
The Mobile Development curriculum was a beta version at best. When it came to the core curriculum, it was clear that we would be the ones doing the testing. As a group of 16, most students began this program with full-time jobs and families depending on them. The majority of students took on significant student loans to make this a possibility. My classmates and I had way too much invested to walk away from the program.
Not As Advertised
After a lot of money and time invested, the program proved it was not as advertised. It would not qualify me as I had hoped. After several attempts to provide feedback to administrators, it became clear they were not interested in improvement. They needed me to finish the program so graduation numbers would improve.
Towards the end, I was 1 of 4 left out of the original 16. The other 12 saw the warning signs or dropped out for personal reasons. My three remaining classmates were rockstar students. I watched as they were powering through while I was stuck trying to pass one particular class. I had ~6-8 months left to graduate.
It was pretty clear that the remaining classwork would do nothing to qualify me as a Mobile Developer. I desperately wanted to complete the classwork, but debt and family commitments were knocking at the door. Instead of being prepared for a new career, I was crumbling under pressure.
Struggling with one class, I had lots of questions. Do I find a way to power through? How do I see God’s sovereignty in my mountain of school debt? Did God allow this? Was this just a poor choice?
If I believe that God uses all things and has a distinct purpose in all of these things, then the last 17 years were not a waste. My failed attempt at school, events, and relationships served a greater purpose. I did not lose these years. These years were the foundation God would use to write my story.
There is a saying I have heard, and it goes something like:
God does not call the qualified; he qualifies the called. -Author Unknown
Years Of Qualification
The last 17 years have uniquely qualified me as a Writer and Mental Health Advocate. Without them, this post and the majority of my posts on mental health would not be possible. The years of struggle, doubt, and depression were a part of my calling. I am at the end of a significant milestone that would not be possible without those 17 years. Do I want to go through it again? No! Do I see how God was working in and through it? Absolutely!
How do we apply God’s sovereignty to moments of anxiety?
Activity: Make A Quick Reference Tool
(1) Create physical flashcards with reminders of God’s authority and control. Bible verses or personal experiences are a great place to start.
(2) Create digital flashcards on your phone. They could be in your notes app, a journal app, or a flashcard app.
Review these reminders as needed. These will help provide perspective.
What can we do to find calm in the chaos?
Prayer: Lord, there is none like You. You are sovereign over all things. Please help me to trust You. Please show me your goodness and love. And help me to praise You with my whole life. -Amen.
“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!”
Psalms 139:1-6 NLT
“How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.”
2 Samuel 7:22 NIV
Original Photo by Ravi Pinisetti on Unsplash.