Is God both sovereign and sweet?
I’ve always struggled to see God as both all-good and all-powerful. There are moments when I perceive Him to be closer than my skin and sweeter than honey…
But then suffering strikes and weaves its tendrils through my life. I get angry because it doesn’t make sense to me. If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t He change things? And if God is all-good, doesn’t He want to change things?
Amazingly, God makes it clear that He is intimately aware of our tendency to have an unbalanced view of His sovereignty and sweetness from the very beginning of the Bible.
Let’s look at Genesis 1:1-4:
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
In verse 1, “God created the heavens and the earth.” Clearly, He lacks no power. Hebrews goes on to support this, saying that God created the world through Jesus and that Jesus upholds the world (Hebrews 1:2-3).
In verses 3-4, God created light and saw that the light was good. His creation of something good indicates that God Himself is good. As Matthew 7:18 says, “A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.”
So in the first 4 verses of the Bible, we get an image of God’s sovereignty and sweetness.
But it gets even better.
Notice that God not only “saw that the light was good,” but that He spoke the light into existence. Without His sovereignty enabling Him to create light, we would be lacking something good.
This indicates that we should find God’s sovereignty to be a comforting thing. Because He is sovereign, we can trust that He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). His sovereignty is the means through which He gives us His goodness.
Once I meditated on these verses, I found it far easier to accept that God is both all-good and all-powerful. However, I still struggled to believe that He was near.
To me, it didn’t matter if He was all-powerful and all-good if He didn’t draw close to me.
But here is the beautiful thing: God makes it clear that He is intimately aware of our desire for Him to be near as well. Look at the end of verse 2: “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
The Holy Spirit was hovering in the darkness before there was light. The Holy Spirit was near, and lest we fear that the Holy Spirit was just near the darkness of creation and is not near the darkness of our trials, we should listen to Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:6:
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
The creation account of the world in Genesis 1 is also representative of what God did in our hearts: We were cloaked in darkness, the Spirit hovered over us, and God spoke light into existence through His Son.
If He hovered over the darkness of creation and the darkness of our souls before salvation, then surely He hovers over the darkness of our trials and sufferings.
His sovereignty gives us security. His sweetness makes us smile. And His nearness makes us smile because it reminds us that we are secure.
From the very beginning of the Bible, He makes one thing abundantly clear: He is not only sovereign, but sweet, and very, very near.