I'm not going to try to tackle the subject of God's sovereignty in a blog post. Because my brain. And also because there's so much we don't know. But there is also so much we DO know because we have the word, so that's a fun topic to delve into on your own.
What I have noticed, though, is that we have this tendency to praise God for miracles when things go right, and claim a "bigger plan" (of God) when things go wrong. I've written a blog post before about this, but when those two things go hand in hand, we are making a couple of assumptions:
1- that everything happening right now is God's will for us on this Earth.
2- that when bad things happen, they happened in order for something greater to happen later. (In other words, the bad thing was a means to a good end.)
You can google things like "Why pray if God is sovereign," and read article after article after article about how the intersection of our prayers and God's sovereignty is beyond us...which certainly holds truth, but very very few articles (actually none that I saw) mention anything about the authorities, rulers, and powers of darkness that we've been told are at work in this time (Eph 6:12).
A popular belief that Chris and I come in contact with frequently due to our situation, is that surely there is a reason God has given us two babies with health problems...and we will discover it later and it will all make sense. In fact, I frequently (more frequently than you might imagine) get sent links and articles to families (always believers) who have discovered via ultrasound about a condition their unborn baby has, and they immediately go into acceptance mode because surely this can only be happening because God ultimately knows better. I can't lie--that is a tempting stance to take. It would have been easier on my heart, in a sense, to disconnect from Ellie emotionally (I prefer not to use Elsie as she is still alive!), accept Ellie's impending doom, and begin planning her funeral. But there was this deep sense within my soul that this was something we needed to fight. Not because I was striving to force my own plan to work, but because I couldn't find anything in scriptures that told me that dead babies were a part of God's greater plan. I looked at every word Jesus spoke and every encounter he ever had with human beings on this Earth and I never once found him refusing to heal a child (or an adult for that matter) because it was going to be better for them in the long run..just wait and see.
I found myself engulfed in the words of Jesus to pray God's will on earth...........as it is in heaven. And I became shockingly aware that this IS a battle and God's perfect will has not been realized yet. But don't forget--we already know we win. I became dependent on the words Jesus said over and over when people asked him to heal them; "I am willing." And this isn't just about physical healing. He cared so deeply about the state of their heart......and then he healed them physically anyway.
I've written a post before about how God is not an abusive father, but we often project abusive attributes to him through the way we speak of "His plan," especially to families in the midst of crisis. If a man walked into my house and caused harm to my child, he would face some serious legal consequences. I have stared in the face of many many child abusers because of my old job--and I can tell you that you can see and sense the evil and twisted thoughts in their eyes immediately. And I've sat in court rooms and watched as the judge brought justice to the victims in the families. Not only is God MORE just than any earthly judge, but he is certainly not in any way comparable to the abuser.
But all of the sudden, because we can't "see" God walking in front of us, we say that he gives certain children conditions for a purpose, for a larger plan that can't be revealed to us yet. We see the healing and the good that can happen after tragedy and we mistake the good at the end for the reason the bad thing happened in the first place.
What's most interesting, is that we can easily forget that God DID walk around revealing his heart to us in the person of Jesus. He didn't touch anyone to give them leprosy or keep anyone blind to bring him ultimate glory. We have the most perfect example of God's character and will through the work of Jesus, and we cannot afford to forget that.
We already know that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17), but why do we neglect to remember that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy? (John 10:10.) Was God lying when he said he came that we may have life and life abundantly? Does this "abundant life" ONLY refer to life after death? No! So when we were told to do the work of Jesus on this Earth, it must have meant that we are to be used by God to carry out his heart for humanity. To save, heal, and deliver. After all, why pray at all if whatever is projected to happen is going to happen anyway....because of "God's plan?"
So when we DO pray for the sick, when we DO pray for deliverance, when we DO pray for the salvation of others...we may not attribute the times it doesn't happen to a larger plan. We press in, not losing heart, praying without ceasing to see people whole. (Luke 18:1) When it doesn't happen, we don't say that God didn't want them healed or delivered or saved. Does God only want some healed, delivered, and saved? I would offer that Heaven is the standard. And heaven is not full of some people who are whole and others who are broken. Chris and I are very much taking on the role of the persistent widow in Jesus' parable...and in the very last part of the passage, we see that God views this type of persistence as faith...not as a misunderstanding of His will. We don't give up when we don't see breakthrough. We ask and ask and ask and ask for this place to look like Heaven.
Luke 18: Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up [or not lose heart]. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”