Is God in control? Does He care about the little things, too?
I recently read an interesting article. On the one hand, it was the usual fare we have come to expect in some circles. A pastor had given a sermon in which he had lauded the truth that God caused the election of U.S. president Donald Trump. Of course, he should have had the same sermon when the former president Barak Obama was elected; chances are, he didn’t.
Please don’t misunderstand. I have little interest to speak into politics. But I am deeply interested in God’s providential control over all things.
If you’re a Christian, I’m sure you have said it: “God is in control.” The world may seem to be out of control, but it’s not. God is in control. But have you ever fleshed that out? Does God only control some things, or does He control all things?
Here are some examples. If you lose your job, is God in control of that? How about if you lose your car keys, your credit card, or your favourite ball cap when you were out a restaurant? What about the speed of the earth’s orbit around the sun or the motion of all the orbs in the galaxy?
If He controls the motions of the galaxy, does He also control where and how a spider in your backyard spins its web?
Does He control the fly that gets caught in its web? Does God order the mountain goats to give birth, and do they propagate at His command? Or do you believe that big chunks of the galaxy operate according to the laws of nature, independent of His direct involvement? How you answer those questions determines what you really believe when you say that God is in control.
There are two passages of Scripture that speak quite directly about this matter. Hebrews 1:3 says of Jesus, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power” (ESV). Another translation says He is sustaining the universe – in other words, He is upholding the universe at every moment in time. His moment-by-moment care of the universe upholds the universe.
The second passage of Scripture I have in mind is Colossians 1:15-16. “He is the Image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him.” Now that is a mouthful – but I want us to concentrate on the very following verse: “And He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
Just like in Hebrews, Colossians tells us that at each moment, Jesus, the great uncreated Creator, holds all things in the universe together. We might say that the reason an atom does not fly apart at each moment is that He actively holds it together. Let’s press this one step further: the reason why the physical universe continues to exist at each moment in time is that He wills it to be so, and actively determines that it should be so.
Whether it is the big things or the small things, all things exist because God has willed.
Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”
When it comes to elections, all Christians can say with certainty that they turned out the way they did because He determined that it would be so. But having said that, we have not yet said why He did. Whether God builds a nation or tears it down is according to His eternal long-term purposes that will serve His glory.