God Is

Day 42

God’s Sovereignty
Leads to Hope

Read your Bible: Romans 8:32–39

Spotlight Verse:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?Romans 8:35

He thought he was going to die.

Jeff Miller is a computer salesman who was reading a book on a flight home when there was a muffled thump. The rear engine in the tail of the DC-10 had exploded and the jet was now rudderless; it couldn’t be steered anymore. It swayed violently from side to side.

The pilots tried for an emergency landing in Sioux City, Iowa. Some passengers were sobbing. Some were shaking. Some were screaming. They were heading toward a plane crash. And almost certain death.

Can you imagine being in that plane?

You may remember seeing news footage of the plane, cartwheeling on the runway. It exploded in flames.

Miller braced himself for a violent death but it never came. After the spinning landing, he found himself upside down, in a corn field, still strapped in his seat, not a mark on him. Amazing! He was one of a few passengers who miraculously survived.

Lee Strobel, a prize winning Chicago journalist who is now a pastor, interviewed Miller. Most people don’t survive a plane crash from 35,000 feet. What did it feel like?

Jeff told him, “I tell you the truth, it was scary, but at the same time I felt like I was full of hope.”56

Full of hope.

He went on,

There was hope if I lived; and the hope that if I died I’d be with Christ. Like it says in the Bible, what can anybody do to you if your hope is in the Lord?57

Full of hope.

The Cure for Hopelessness

The Bible’s all about hope. There are 86 references to hope in the Old Testament. 80 references to hope in the New Testament. Four references to it in Romans 8 alone. You think God wants you to have hope?

Absolutely. Because hopelessness is the biggest source of stress in life. And a rock-solid belief that God is sovereign is the cure.

After church last week a very serious eleven-year old boy approached me. He was so grim for someone his age. I could tell something was really bothering him.

He told me in a surprisingly world-weary tone, “I am really struggling with anxiety. I hear people talking about the future, and the end of the world, and wars and terrorism, and late at night I can’t sleep and I worry about all of this and get really scared.”

I opened the Bible to the end of Romans 8, and asked him to read me those verses out loud. I could see the stress just rolling off him, his shoulders going from tense to relaxed as he read Paul’s inspired words.

And I gave him an assignment: I put together a list of verses about God’s sovereignty, and asked him to write those verses out onto 3×5 cards and read them several times a day for an entire week. He got it: “So I can replace my anxious thoughts with the truth?” “That’s exactly right!” I said.

Greater Than Any Power

In Romans 8, Paul gives a list that sounds like the ingredients for a nightmare: Death, angels, demons, the future… yet, he proclaims, not one of these powers can ever separate us from God’s loving plan.

This does not mean life is smooth all of the time.

But even if things look bleak; even if, as Paul puts it, “we are like lambs to be slaughtered” (which certainly was the experience of many first-century persecuted Christians, and many today); even in those circumstances, God’s sovereign love ultimately holds me tight and brings me home to Him.

Do I Need To Think About Sovereignty?

I’ll admit it: Because God’s sovereignty is so other, so outside of my ability to comprehend, at times I feel like a puppy, head cocked to one side, trying desperately to understand what my Master is trying to say.

That doesn’t mean the Master’s voice is spouting nonsense. It means I’m encountering Someone different than me.

Remember, the Bible is describing a Being who is not just a bigger version of you, ruling a bigger version of a human kingdom; it’s describing a reality far beyond your comprehension. The Roman or Norse gods are a lot easier to understand. But they’re not real.

In the end, when I consider the sovereignty of God, I must concede that if there is a God, He is simply not possible for me to fully understand.

So why did God even mention some of these hard-to-understand attributes, like sovereignty? Why not just leave them for us to appreciate in heaven, when we can comprehend these mysteries better?

God wanted to reveal the truth of His sovereignty to you and me for a reason:

It makes a difference in your life now.

It means you can let go of your revenge fantasies.

It means there is a place to put your fears.

It means you can sleep better tonight.

A suggestion: Do what that eleven-year old did.

Put some of the key verses from the daily readings in this book onto index cards, and carry them around with you every day for the rest of this study, starting today. Read them when you wake up, when you go to bed, and perhaps at lunchtime or during breaks.

If you believe He is ultimately in control, what is there to fear?


God is… the One who gives hope.

Questions For Reflection

Of Paul’s list of scary things in Romans 8:35, which scares you the most?

How does a belief in God’s sovereignty build hope and reduce fear?

What practical, emotional benefits do you see to a faith in a God who is sovereign over all?