Sovereignty In Suffering Is Sanity

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Sovereignty in Suffering is Sanity


The attribute of the God of the Bible that you must learn in order to have peace of mind in the midst of all your sufferings is the sovereignty of God. There are Christians that are willing to apply the sovereignty of God to their justification but not to their sanctification.

We will look at the lives of three Biblical characters, Joseph, Job and David and see from God’s Word how His sovereignty applied to every aspect of their sanctification including evil as well as good.


Purpose: To learn from Scripture alone how to apply God’s sovereignty to your suffering in order to give meaning and peace to you in your affliction by seeing your pain from the viewpoint of  God’s sovereign plan over all of your life.



1. A sermon from John Newton in 1762. “ While we are only engaged in defense of the election of grace, and have a comfortable hope that we are ourselves of that number, we seem so convinced, by the arguments the Scripture affords us in support of the truth, that we can hardly forbear charging our adversaries with perverse obstinacy and pride, for opposing it. Undoubtedly the ground of this opposition lies in the pride of the human heart, but this evil principle is not confined to any party: and for the divine sovereignty are little more practically influenced by it than their opponents. This humiliating doctrine concludes as strongly for submission to the will of God, under every circumstance of life as it does for our acquiescing in His purpose to have mercy. But, alas how often do we find ourselves utterly unable to apply it, so as to reconcile our spirits to those afflictions which He is pleased to allot us. So far as we are enabled to say, when we are exercised with poverty or heavy losses or crosses, “I was dumb and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it” so far, and no farther, are we truly convinced,  that God has a sovereign right to dispose of us and all our concernments as He pleases.


Ecc 7:14  In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other, So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.



How often and how justly at such seasons, might the argument we offer to others, as sufficient to silence all their objections, be retorted upon ourselves,



Rom 9:20  But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”



A plain proof that our knowledge is more notional than experimental. What an inconsistence, that while we think God is just and righteous in with-holding from others the things which pertain to their everlasting peace, we should find it so hard to submit to His dispensations to ourselves in matters of unspeakably less importance.


Mar 4:10 But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.

Mar 4:11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables,




But the Lord’s appointments to those who fear Him are not only sovereign, but wise and gracious. He has connected their good with His own glory, and is engaged by promise, to make all things work together for their advantage. He chooses for His people better than they could choose for themselves; if they are in heaviness, there is a need-be for it, and He withholds nothing from them but what upon the whole it is better they should be without. Thus the Scriptures teach, and thus we profess believe. Furnished with these principles, we are at no loss to suggest motives of patience and consolation to our brethren that are afflicted: we can assure them without hesitation, that if they are interested in the promises, their concerns are in safe hands; that the things which at present are not joyous but grievous, shall in due season yield the peaceful fruits of righteousness, and that their trails are as certainly mercies as their comforts.



Heb 12:5  And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “MY SON, DO NOT DESPISE THE CHASTENING OF THE LORD, NOR BE DISCOURAGED WHEN YOU ARE REBUKED BY HIM;

Heb 12:6  FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” Heb 12:7  If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?

Heb 12:8  But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

Heb 12:9  Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?

Heb 12:10  For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.

Heb 12:11  Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.



We can prove to them, from the history of Joseph, David, Job and other instances recorded in Scriptures that notwithstanding any present dark appearances, it shall certainly be well with the righteous: that God can and will make crooked things straight; that He often produces the greatest good from those events which we are apt to look upon as evil. From hence we can infer not only the sinfulness, but the folly of finding fault with any of His dispensations. We can tell them, that at the worst the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed;



Rom 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.



And that therefore, under the greatest pressures, they should so weep as those who expect in a little time to have all their tears wiped away. But when the case is our own, when we are troubled on every side, or touched in the tenderest part, how difficult it is to feel the force of these reasoning’s, though we know they are true to a demonstration! Then, unless we are endued with fresh strength from on high, we are as liable to complain and despond as if we thought our afflictions sprang out of the ground, and the Lord had forgotten to be gracious.

Without renewed and continual communications from the Spirit of grace he is unable to withstand the smallest temptation, to endure the slightest trail, to perform the least service in a due manner, or even to think a good thought. He knows this, and yet he too often forgets it. But the Lord reminds him of it frequently by suspending that assistance without which he can do nothing. This repeated experience of his own weakness teaches him by degrees where his strength lies; that it is not in any thing he has already attained, or can call his own, but the grace, power, and faithfulness of his Savior. He learns to cease from his own understanding to be ashamed of his best endeavors, to abhor himself in dust and ashes and to glory only in the Lord. 



2. A Scriptural demonstration of the sovereignty of God in every aspect of Joseph’s life, both good and evil, for Joseph’s good and God’s glory.


  1. God gave Joseph a dream which revealed God’s sovereign plan for his life and the lives of Joseph’s family. However, this sovereign plan contained much suffering for Joseph because God had decreed evil to come into Joseph’s life. But this evil was the wisest path for Joseph’s good and the good of his family and the ultimate future of Israel. Gen. 37- recounts Joseph’s first trial of suffering at seventeen.


  1. Gen. 39 is the story of  Joseph’s next trial of suffering that God had decreed for him. Joseph was accused of raping Potiphar’s wife.  


c.  Gen. 40 states Joseph’s third trial from God according to God’s sovereign plan for him. Joseph is forgotten by the chief butler and he must spend two more years in prison.


d.  In Gen. 41 God brings and end to all the suffering of Joseph.


e.  In Gen. 45 we see the purpose for God decreeing all the evil in Joseph’s life. Joseph is not forty years old.


f.  In Gen. 50 God reveals how He ordained evil in Joseph’s life.



Gen 50:20  But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.




3. God in His sovereignty brings suffering into our lives so that we will not go astray, keep His Word and learn His Word. David learned from the sin God ordained for his life.


Psa 119:67  Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word. 

Psa 119:71  It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.



4. Job learned things about himself and God that he could not have learned apart from God ordaining all the evil to come into his life.


Job 5:17  “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.

Job 5:18  For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole.

Job 5:19  He shall deliver you in six troubles, Yes, in seven no evil shall touch you.


Job 42:1  Then Job answered the LORD and said:

Job 42:2  “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.

Job 42:3  You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

 Job 42:4  Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’

Job 42:5  “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.

Job 42:6  Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”


Job 42:10  And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Job 42:11  Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the LORD had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold.

Job 42:12  Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning;



Psa 143:8  Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.







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