We had a great time as LBC gathered together yesterday morning but more on that at some other point.
I talked for a bit before I got into my main message about the pastoral need there is around our church to get a better grasp of the truth about God's sovereignty. I've just become so aware recently that we've got to get this aspect of doctrine better nailed down because the absence of a strong, Biblical understanding of suffering is causing no small amount of pain.
Jack's got his arm in plaster (again) and as I was out in the car with him last week I asked him, rather mischievously, "So, Jack, did God want you to break your arm?"
"Of course he didn't!" Came the reply followed by a noise representing incredulity that only adolescents can make when their parents have asked a ridiculous question.
"So how come you're arm's broken?" I asked nonchalantly as we continued to drive.
"Yeah, well it's not His fault I slipped over!"
"So you're saying he couldn't stop it..... the God of the whole universe who put stars into space couldn't stop a medium sized, twelve year old boy from slipping over on a basketball court?"
At this point I could hear the cogs whirring....
I put the question to him another way and simply asked him whether or not God had allowed his accident. Jack recognised that if God was the all powerful God he'd been brought up to know then, yes, for some reason, God had indeed allowed him to slip over. The alternative, an impotent God who had limited powers, who was often on the back foot and would wring his hands wishing he could do more was no God at all.
As we approached our destination I reminded him that God was also His Father who loved Him even more than I did and as a Father, the perfect, all powerful Father, He would never let anything happen to us that would do us ultimate harm. He was a Father who would only ever let things happen to us that would be for our good.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Romans8:35,37, NLT)
Hard, so hard when you've got your arm in plaster and you can't play bass for weeks.
I said I didn't know why God had allowed it but I did know He was in charge, that we were loved by Him and that the Bible says (James 1, 1 Peter 1) God uses even bad stuff to do really important work in us.
As I talked with Jack I wasn't at that point aware of the news regarding Matt Chandler's brain tumour. Matt is a 35 year old pastor in the States who has been significantly used by God. He has a passion for Reformed doctrine in general and the work of God in sanctification in particular and has seen his church grow from 150 to 5000 ish in 7 years. I mention this last bit about the growth in his church because it adds to the question: Why, Lord, would you do that? Matt's surgery was on Friday and before he went in he recorded this video message which was played at his church this weekend. Do watch it and allow God to encourage you regarding his sovereign, sustaining and sufficient grace.
Video from Matt