by A. W. Pink
A true recognition of God's absolute sovereignty, will exclude all murmuring. This is self-evident—yet the thought deserves to be dwelt upon. It is natural to murmur against afflictions and losses. It is natural to complain when we are deprived of those things upon which we had set our hearts. We are apt to regard our possessions as ours unconditionally. We feel that when we have prosecuted our plans with prudence and diligence, that we are entitled to success; that when by dint of hard work we have accumulated a 'competence,' we deserve to keep and enjoy it; that when we are surrounded by a happy family, no power may lawfully enter the charmed circle and strike down a loved one. And if in any of these cases disappointment, bankruptcy, death, actually comes, the perverted instinct of the human heart is to cry out against God. But in the one who, by grace, has recognized God's sovereignty, such murmuring is silenced, and instead, there is a bowing to the Divine will, and an acknowledgment that He has not afflicted us as sorely as we deserve.
A true recognition of God's sovereignty will avow God's perfect right to do with us as He wills. The one who bows to the pleasure of the Almighty—will acknowledge His absolute right to do with us as seems good to Him. If He chooses to send poverty, sickness, domestic bereavements, even while the heart is bleeding at every pore—it will say, Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right! Often there will be a struggle, for the carnal mind remains in the believer to the end of his earthly pilgrimage. But though there may be a conflict within his breast, nevertheless, to the one who has really yielded himself to God's sovereignty, there will presently be heard that Voice saying, as of old it said to the turbulent Gennesaret, "Peace be still"; and the tempestuous flood within will be quieted and the subdued soul will lift a tearful but confident eye to heaven and say, "May Your will be done!"
A striking illustration of a soul bowing to the sovereign will of God, is furnished by the history of Eli, the high priest of Israel. In 1 Samuel 3 we learn how God revealed to the young child Samuel that He was about to slay Eli's two sons for their wickedness, and on the morrow Samuel communicates this message to the aged priest. It is difficult to conceive of more appalling news for the heart of a pious parent. The announcement that his child is going to be stricken down by sudden death is, under any circumstances, a great trial to any father—but to learn that his two sons—in the prime of their manhood, and utterly unprepared to die—were to be cut off by a Divine judgment, must have been overwhelming. Yet, what was the effect upon Eli when he learned from Samuel the tragic tidings? What reply did he make when he heard the awful news? "And he said, It is the Lord—let Him do what seems good to Him!" (1 Sam. 3:18). And not another word escaped his mouth. Wonderful submission! Sublime resignation! Lovely exemplification of the power of Divine grace to control the strongest affections of the human heart and subdue the rebellious will, bringing it into unrepining acquiescence to the sovereign pleasure of Jehovah.
Another example, equally striking, is seen in the life of Job. As is well known, Job was one who feared God and shunned evil. If ever there was one who might reasonably expect Divine providence to smile upon him, (we speak as a man,) it was Job. Yet, how did it fare with him? For a time, the lines fell in pleasant places unto him. The Lord filled his quiver by giving him seven sons and three daughters. He prospered him in his temporal affairs until he owned great possessions. But suddenly, the sun of life was hidden behind dark clouds. In a single day Job lost not only his flocks and herds—but his sons and daughters as well. News arrived that his cattle had been carried off by robbers, and his children slain by a cyclone. And how did he receive this news? Hearken to his sublime words, "The Lord gave—and the Lord has taken away!" He bowed to the sovereign will of Jehovah. He traced his afflictions back to their First Cause. He looked behind the Sabeans who had stolen his cattle, and beyond the winds that had destroyed his children—and saw the hand of God. But not only did Job recognize God's sovereignty, he rejoiced in it, too. To the words, "The Lord gave—and the Lord bath taken away," he added, "Blessed be the name of the Lord!" (Job 1:21). Again we say, Sweet submission! Sublime resignation!
A true recognition of God's sovereignty causes us to hold our every plan in abeyance to God's will. The writer well recalls an incident which occurred in England over twenty years ago. Queen Victoria was dead, and the date for the coronation of her eldest son, Edward, had been set for April 1902. In all the announcements which were sent out, two little letters were omitted— D. V. (Deo Volente) God willing. Plans were made and all arrangements completed for the most imposing celebrations that England had ever witnessed. Kings and emperors from all parts of the earth had received invitations to attend the royal ceremony. The Prince's proclamations were printed and displayed—but, so far as the writer is aware, the letters D. V. were not found on a single one of them. A most imposing program had been arranged, and the late Queen's eldest son was to be crowned Edward the Seventh at Westminster Abbey at a certain hour on a fixed day. And then God intervened, and all man's plans were frustrated. A still small voice was heard to say, "You have reckoned without Me," and Prince Edward was stricken down with appendicitis, and his coronation postponed for months!
As remarked, a true recognition of God's sovereignty causes us to hold our plans in abeyance to God's will. It makes us recognize that the Divine Potter has absolute power over the clay and molds it according to His own imperial pleasure. It causes us to heed that admonition—now, alas! so generally disregarded, "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15). Yes, it is to the Lord's will we must bow. It is for Him to say where I shall live—whether in America or Africa. It is for Him to determine under what circumstances I shall live—whether amid wealth or poverty, whether in health or sickness. It is for Him to say how long I shall live—whether I shall be cut down in youth like the flower of the field, or whether I shall continue for three score and ten years. To really learn this lesson is, by grace, to attain unto a high grade in the school of God; and even when we think we have learned it, we discover, again and again, that we have to relearn it!