The Sovereignty of God In Trouble and Closed Doors (Lesson From Closed Doors)

Bruised, beaten, in great pain, and behind a prison door – Paul and Silas were able to pray and sing hymns to God.

As I have been reflecting on how those songs of praise must have sounded to the other prisoners who were listening in that dark midnight hour, I find myself remembering the time when God shut the door to my strength.

About 18 months had passed, and my days were graduating from spending most of them in bed to being able to undertake basic activities.  I was by no means a bundle of energy, but not only could I stand for periods of time without having to lean against a wall, I could even go outside for small walks!

I remember one morning in particular on this journey.  I was sitting at the table, spending time with God in Ephesians 5.

I had just read through verses 15 – 19 where Paul outlines the importance of living life carefully…not as fools but as wise…not as unwise but understanding what the will of the Lord is…being filled with the Spirit…speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…singing and making music to the Lord…

Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father.

With those words, God’s sword sliced into my heart when, by His Spirit, He asked me “Are you thankful for this trial that I have allowed in your life?”

I responded to that question with such vehement anger and hostile bitterness…

“God, how can I be thankful for what has turned my life inside out and upside down?”

After those words erupted from me, I sat there…

Stunned!  In shock!

For in all honesty, I did not even know that attitude was lurking in my heart.

But God did.

Hebrews 4:13 says that God’s word is living and active and it is sharper than any two-edged sword…and it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents…

Of the heart.

By His Word, God had uncovered a rotting, tainted attitude.

I love God so much, and I love how He works in my life…

In all honesty, I think God has quite the sense of humor:D

Because the second question that came on the heels of the first was this…

“So are you going to be wise or are you going to be a fool?”

At this point, I actually smiled a bit, for this is how God so often works…His word is so crystal clear and rings with such truth as by it He clearly lays out the steps He has for me to take.  By allowing me to go through and reflect on the truths of the previous verses (Eph. 5:15 – 19) about living as wise and understanding what the Lord’s will so that I am not being unwise and living life as a fool…

God cleared the path so that I had a clearly understood the decision I needed to make.

I could continue to hang onto my bitter attitude, be a fool and continue to not be thankful for this trial.

Or…

I could confess this stinky attitude to God, and ask Him to teach me how I could be thankful for this trial.

Since I didn’t want to be a fool…and honestly, now that I knew such a rotten attitude had taken up residence in my heart, I really didn’t like the thought of hanging onto it…

So I confessed this to God, and asked Him to help me learn how to be thankful for this trial.

And on the heels of this, God taught me such a simple, yet important lesson…

He is Sovereign.

While I knew and believed this in my mind, this truth – which is woven throughout the pages of His Word – had not fully taken root in my heart.

“…according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” (Eph. 1:11)

“One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:6)

“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things…” (Rom. 11:36a)

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

As I meditated on the truth of God’s sovereignty in opening the door to allow this trial in my life by closing the door to my strength, I came to the realization that even though this wasn’t the path I would have chosen…

This was the path that He had chosen for me in order to accomplish His sovereign purposes in my life as He completes His good plan for my life.

It is because He is sovereign over all and through all and in all…it is because He works out all things in conformity to the purpose of His will…it is because no purpose of His can be thwarted…it is because He will work all things – the good and the difficult – for my good…

That I can rest assured that any place He leads me…any open door He directs me through…any closed door that He places in front of me…any dark valley that I go through…any enemy that I have to face…any times of being abandoned by those around me…

Because He is sovereign, it does not matter what I face or must go through…there is no circumstance, in my life that will ever be able to overpower God’s good purposes that He is accomplishing in my life.  There is no situation that will be able to nullify God’s promises to me.  There is no will of man that will be able to trump God’s plan for my life…

And because of this, I can abide peacefully under the shelter of His wings…I can hope contentedly as I wait for Him to fulfill His will…I can with courage take steps that He places before me…

And I can lift of eyes of love with a heart of trust and sing songs of praise to Him in the midst of whatever fiery trial or deep waters or dark valleys I am going through…

He is my Good Shepherd.  He will never leave me nor forsake me.  Every single need He will supply.

In fact, in Him…

I lack nothing!

Isn’t that an amazing truth?

Because God is sovereign does not mean that He will keep me from trouble.  In fact, as His child sometimes it seems like I have signed up for trouble:D  Jesus said in John 16:33 that in this world we will have trouble…

But because of Him, in the midst of whatever trouble we are facing, we can take heart…

Because He has overcome the world.

Nothing in this world can overpower His purposes.  Nothing in this world can nullify His promises.  Nothing in this world can trump His plans.

He is sovereign.

You know, Paul and Silas must have been in great pain as they sat in the prison cell that dark night, yet because they knew who had directed their steps to that place…they knew who had allowed these events to occur…they knew who held them in His hand…

They understood that God was using what they were facing – as painful as it was – to accomplish His good purposes…

Not only in their lives, but in the lives of others.

And so, with confident hearts full of love and trust in the Sovereign God who had brought them to this place…

They were able to lift up songs of praise…

In a dark cell…

In much pain…

Behind closed doors.

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