Q. You said that believing God is sovereign over us helps us to deal with pain. So how does knowing about God's sovereignty help us to cope with hurt or pain? How does it help us to forgive others?
Thanks for your question. It's a good one.
Random Acts of Violence?
If we believe that people commit random acts of physical or emotional violence against us, then it is more difficult for us to forgive our enemies. We find it harder to accept their cruel behaviors. We tend to see our lives as a tangled web of meaningless acts. The same is true of disasters and severe weather events. If we feel that we are at the mercy of "Acts of God" (a contradiction), then we feel as if our lives are out of control - at the mercy of forces we do not understand.
Predestined to become Christlike
Scripture teaches us something entirely different, however. In the book of Romans, Paul declares that God predestined us "to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Ro. 8:29). We become more Christ like when we undergo suffering and trials. In fact, James tells us to "count it all joy" when you "meet trials of various kinds" because "the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" (James 1:2-4, ESV).
Afflictions Achieve Future Glory for Us
Paul tells the Corinthian believers that "our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Cor. 4:16-18, NIV).
While our difficulties seem insurmountable at times, the Bible informs us that our lives are "just a vapor that appears for a little while and then disappears" (James 4:14). Proverbs 16:9 and 20:24 tell us that while we think we are planning or controlling things, it is really God who directs and ordains our steps!
God Ordains our Path
"The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps" (Prov. 16:9 NASB).
"Man's steps are ordained by the Lord. How then can man understand his way?" (Prov. 20:24).
Our Skewed Perspective
In other words, our perspective is skewed. What we consider to be important is far less important than we think. Our lives are just a tiny speck in the ocean of eternity. What we endure here is short and swift. Yet, we have it backwards. We think that our problems on earth are all that matter.
Job cries out "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him" (Job 12:15). Joseph declared to his brothers, "You meant evil against me. But God meant it for good" (Genesis 50:20). In the book of Hebrews we are told that God will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5).
Quit Trying to Figure-Out Everything
Finally, we are told to quit trying to figure out everything by ourselves. When a co-worker tries to get us fired, or a car pulls out in front of us on the freeway, or a bill is turned over to a collections agency, God is still sovereign over our lives. Scripture tells us,
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV).
Everything Works to our Good
We can trust God to cause all things to work together for our good (Romans 8:28). This does not mean that our lives will be easy. It does mean, however, that our lives are full of meaning and purpose.
Bridges, Jerry. 1988. Trusting God even when life hurts. Colorado Springs: NavPress.
Missler, Nancy. 1999. Faith in the night seasons. Coeur d'Alene, ID: Koinonia House. Available from: www.khouse.org.