When the Knowledge That God Is in Control Isn’t Comforting

Author of Someplace to Be Somebody
When the Knowledge That God Is in Control Isn’t Comforting

Calamities and distress happen to Christians and non-Christians alike. But for Christians who trust God, knowing God is in control doesn’t always bring the reassurance we’d expect. How may we find encouragement from knowing God is sovereign when painful situations arise?

Sometimes telling someone who is facing a trial that God is in control feels to them like platitudes. We’ve all heard it before, but deep in our hearts, do we believe it when we are suffering? A wise pastor once said we are either in, coming out of, or going into a trial; if you monitor your life for a year, you may find that to be a true adage. Often, well-meaning loved ones will say, “This too shall pass,” but where can we go in the Bible to find rest and encouragement knowing God is sovereign?

What Does the Bible Say about God’s Sovereignty?

Pastor and author Chip Ingram tells us, “There is absolutely nothing that happens in the universe that is outside of God’s influence and authority. As King of kings and Lord of lords, God has no limitations.” It’s no surprise, as Pastor Ingram gets this information straight from Scripture.

Once we understand and accept God’s sovereignty, we can rest in His promises from His Word as His Holy Spirit gives us understanding. As Dr. John Frame states, “God’s lordship attributes are spelled out within the themes of control, authority, and presence.”


God is the One who controls all nature and all history for His glory and purposes.


Scripture is truth and all authority in heaven and on earth is His (Matthew 28:18). God’s Word to us requires our belief, faith, and submission.


Because He is omnipresent, He is always with us (Deuteronomy 31:6). When God answered Moses’ question, “Who am I…?” He said, “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:11-12a). And then Jesus put on flesh as Immanuel, God with Us (Matthew 1:23). 

As believers, in every season of life we can be confident that our sovereign God is with us. There is joy in His presence.

For us to move forward and not languish as we face trials and tribulation, we must first realize God is sovereign. If we don’t trust Him and His control over every aspect of life, we will falter in our faith; God’s Word tells us, “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b).

People in the Bible Who Suffered, and Reached Out to God


He’s our “go-to” when we think of the suffering of mere mortals. Job had absolutely no idea what was going on behind the scenes (Job 1:6-12), but he held fast to His Redeemer when:

- His belongings and children were lost.

“And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:21-22).

- He was afflicted with boils and his wife said,

“’Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:9-10).

- When his three friends showed up to console him, the best use of their lips was to remain shut (Job 2:13). As they railed on and on from Job 3:1 -37:4, Job listened, argued, and lamented both to them and to and about God. He grieved yes, but in the end, he proclaimed this solid truth to which he clung,

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).


When the Lord had Moses pass the mantle of leadership to Joshua, the Lord addressed fear. God said to Joshua, upon entering the Promised Land, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Joshua knew the pitfalls of leading people, for he witnessed the Jews’ egregious acts against the LORD God. They failed to believe God and trust Him, they disobeyed Him, and their hearts were hardened toward him (“never seeing nor hearing,” says Deuteronomy 31:18, Isaiah 6:10, and John 12:40).

The Lord, however, prepared Joshua’s resolve, for three times in Joshua 1:1-9, the LORD God told him not to fear, but to be strong and courageous, and He reiterated His promise to be with them (Joshua 1:9). For the most part throughout the book of Joshua, we read God’s commands to him, followed by Joshua’s immediate obedience. 

After the destruction of Jericho, Joshua faced rebellion as Achan stole some of the items devoted to the treasury of the Lord (Joshua 7:1). This act angered the Lord, and Israel faced defeat at the hands of the people of Ai. Joshua questioned the Lord’s wisdom in bringing the people over the Jordan when He knew what would befall them. He expressed dismay that the surrounding nations would attempt to cut off the LORD’s name and asked God, “And what will You do for Your great name?” (Joshua 7:7-9).

The LORD revealed Achan’s sin to Joshua and said, “I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you” (Joshua 7:12). Joshua lamented about the transgressor and obeyed the Lord and dealt with Achan in view of all the people (Joshua 7:25-26).

Joshua trusted the LORD, obeyed Him immediately, and the Lord blessed his endeavors against Ai. Joshua then worshiped and exalted the Lord in the presence of all of the Jews (Joshua 8:30-35). Despite the occasions of disobedience and rejection of the Lord by the people, God remained faithful and merciful. “Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45).

King David

From a young age, David’s life was fraught with difficulties, and his calling to be king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13) didn’t allay any of them.

David killed Goliath, the one who defied the armies of the living God (1 Samuel 17:26). His act caused the people of Israel to give him renown (1 Samuel 18:7) above that of King Saul, and thereafter, Saul sought David’s life (1 Samuel 18:8-9).

David strayed from the Lord’s commandment when he took Uriah the Hittite’s wife, impregnated her, and had Uriah placed in the front lines of battle to assure his death. After Uriah’s death, he took Bathsheba as his wife. But when confronted by Nathan the prophet, a contrite and penitent David confessed his sin and was restored. Psalm 51 is a beautiful look at David’s submission to his loving God.

After David became king, his son Amnon took his sister, Tamar, by force and then hated her. Absalom heard of it and had his brother killed (2 Samuel 13). Absalom fled from the king’s presence and later wooed many of the people to follow him instead of King David (2 Samuel 15:6). King David fled (2 Samuel 15:14). As ruler, Absalom “went in to his father’s concubines,” (2 Samuel 16:22), shaming his father’s name. David’s commander, Joab, saw to the death of Absalom (2 Samuel 18:15), whom David greatly grieved.

David’s prayers are well recorded throughout the Psalms. In them he lamented, cried to the Lord, questioned Him, praised Him, worshiped Him, and poured out his heart. A number of them start with grievances, yet most end with hope in the One David trusted as his.

David sinned, yet he confessed and went to the Lord God with a broken and contrite heart. David is rightly called a man after God’s own heart. Dr. R. C. Sproul explains why, “If you read Psalm 51 and read it carefully and thoughtfully, that Psalm will reveal more than anything else in the history of David why David was called a man after God's own heart. Because here it reveals the broken heart of a sinful man who sees his sin clearly."

The Apostle Paul

The lives of Joshua, Job, and David give us fine examples of those who suffered well for the Lord and kept their trust in Him. While we see the same in the Apostle Paul, the Lord also used him to give us direct written instructions on how to live the true Christian life.

Paul’s conversion as he journeyed to Damascus to persecute Christians left him dazed and blind. 

And 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 gives us a comprehensive list of Paul’s suffering as an Apostle. He was beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, adrift on the sea, and experienced danger in many places. 

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul said, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”

Yet Paul is the one who wrote Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” If anyone knows that truth, Paul does, and we gain much confidence from all his encouragement.

How Can Believers Rest in God’s Sovereignty?

Remember these awe-inspiring truths about God:

- We are not alone (Matthew 28:20).

- God hears our prayers (Psalm 139:4, 1 John 5:14–15, 1 Peter 3:12).

- He is working for, in, and through us every day (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

- Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

- We are victorious in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).

- Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35, 39).

- Though we have tribulation, Christ has already overcome the world (John 16:33).

- He uses our troubles to help others (2 Corinthians 1:4-5).

- We can rejoice in our trials, knowing God will conform us more to Christ’s image as we endure (James 1).

- We can rejoice in God always because He is at hand (Philippians 4:4-9).

- Remember, in our trials, we are sharing Christ’s sufferings (1 Peter 4:12-13).

Be honest with God and go before Him knowing He already knows everything about you.

Read God’s answer to Job in Job 38-41 and His rebuke of Job’s friends and His restoration of Job in chapter 42.

As further encouragement for us, the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).

A Prayer to Encourage Us in Trials

Almighty Father,

Thank You for Who You are, and thank You for continuing to work in us so we may become the people You created us to be. Fiery trials, heartache, and things we cannot control will seek to overwhelm us but we only need look to You for our peace. You promise never to leave us; help us to rest in that and bring Your Word into our hearts so we remember all the wondrous things You have done, are doing, and will do. We love You, Lord, and we trust You for everything because You are our everything. We cannot do anything without You, and we don’t want to. Help us through the storms of life — You who calm the raging seas with but a Word. We love you and trust You, our Rock and our Redeemer.

In the mighty name of Jesus we pray,


Photo credit: ©Getty Images/urbazon

Lisa Baker 1200x1200Lisa Loraine Baker is the multiple award-winning author of Someplace to be Somebody. She writes fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing for the Salem Web Network, Lisa serves as a Word Weavers’ mentor and is part of a critique group. She also is a member of BRRC. Lisa and her husband, Stephen, a pastor, live in a small Ohio village with their crazy cat, Lewis.