The Ruler

Enough about the November election. Maybe you got your way and maybe you didn't. But it's over. Likewise that memorable event from your recent or distant past. Maybe you got your way and maybe you didn't. But it's over. 
People often define themselves by events of the past--good or bad. You are may perceive yourself a lifelong winner because you won that state championshship in high school or you may perceive yourself a lifelong victim because of that horrible abuse you endured as a child. You may consider a day bad because people (or your car) failed to meet your expectations or consider a day good because you got what you wanted. 
It is short-sighted to think joy is wrapped up in getting your way. When you start living this way you become a slave to your environment. Your emotions are controlled by everything from the weather to national elections. But if you follow Jesus Christ should your identity be found in him or in some event that happened in a sin-cursed world? It makes every difference to embrace the sovereignty of God when facing things you never would have chosen.
Read of the topsy-turvy life of Joseph in Genesis. He believed that the events in God's world--even the evil deeds of evil men--are sent by God to accomplish his good purposes. Joseph was hated and favored, falsely accused and promoted, made a slave and made a ruler. Yet his confession in Genesis 50:20 was, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."
There are increasing levels of growth when you recognize that God is sovereign. I have observed this in counselees who wrestle with anger or bitterness. Anger and bitterness often spring from the belief that says, "I don't deserve this." So whether your spouse mistreats you or you fall on the ice, if you fail to see him in the trial you will just see an event or a person that is in the way of your happiness.
The first step in this growth is to acknowledge God's right to rule. He can do what he wants with you because he is God. He rules whether you acknowledge it or not, but seeing him as he is gives you the right persective on what you are going through. But you must do more than see him as he is.
A second step of growth in this recognition of God's absolute rule in your life is to submit to it. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, one of the most powerful kings who ever lived, endured seven years living as an animal. Most people would call that "bad." But God rules. Nebuchadnezzar was humbled at the end of that time and confessed, "For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation." God sent that hard time. Are you okay with that?
The final step of growth in this knowledge of God's sovereignty is to delight in it--even when you are hurting. After a vision of heaven that few have been privileged to see, the apostle Paul was given a "messenger of Satan," possibly some severe physical disability, to keep him humble. Even after praying for deliverance the Lord told Paul that grace is better that healing. Paul demonstrated more than an admission that God was in control (for you can say that and remain bitter). He showed more than a submission to God's control. Paul was actually able to delight in his hard times. He testified: "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
What is it with you? Illness? Money trouble? Relationship problems? Lost your fight on a political issue? You do have responsibility in many areas, but in those areas beyond your control you need to find satisfaction that God meant it for your good and his glory.

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