I want to explain a little bit about why I posted Light Shining Out of Darkness by William Cowper. I first heard this hymn sung as a modern song by Jeremy Riddle - incredibly done, by the way. This stanza really scared me and comforted me at the same time:
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
It scared me because I've had a few clouds break on my head over the last few years. We've all gone through difficult circumstances. I hate clouds!
It encouraged me because it reminded me that those things that we fear most are often the things that either drive us further away from God or closer to Him. I need to take courage when I see the clouds forming, because while it may rain (or pour), those clouds aren't going to do anything God hasn't sent them to do.
To me, this is the most powerful part of the hymn:
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev'ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r.
It would be really easy to ask why God has allowed me to be conceived by a father who is not present in my life. It seems like such a burden to carry, this not knowing. But I think that line of questioning is the wrong line of questioning. I don't think that God allowed it in the sense that he let them (my parents and the doctor and my biological father) create me in this fashion. I think that Scripture shows us a God who is so involved with His creation that it was not permission that was granted, but rather it was part of God's plan - what He ordained.
Are you familiar with Joseph whose life is included in the book of Genesis? Joseph was hated by his ten older brothers because of their father's favoritism toward Joseph. They hated him so much that they threw him into a pit and then pulled him back out of the pit only to sell him into slavery instead. He was taken far away from his family and home as a slave in Egypt. The ten brothers told their father that Joseph had been torn apart by a wild animal. Long story short, in several years' time, Joseph went from being a slave, to a prisoner, to being second in command of Egypt.
A famine spread across the land, but Egypt had a storehouse of food. People from all over the area went to purchase food from Pharoah. Joseph's ten brothers came before Joseph to buy food, not recognizing him as their brother. After a long, drawn out process, Joseph, who still hadn't yet revealed his identity, determined that his brothers had repented from the evil that they had done to him and so he could not keep his identity secret any longer. This is part of what he said to them:
"Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God..." (Genesis 45.5-8a)
The brothers did, indeed, sell Joseph into slavery. But God ordained it to happen. Joseph, the one who endured slavery, defamation of his character, prison life, separation from his family...he recognized that God sent him to Egypt through his brothers.
Toward the end of the narrative, Joseph says this to his brothers: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." Joseph may have wondered why exactly his life was unfolding in this manner, but he could see God's providence, even in prison.
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), a pastor and one of America's greatest thinkers, said this about the sovereignty of God: "There has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, in respect to the doctrine of God's sovereignty.... The doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God."
Knowing the true circumstances of my conception has made me love the Lord all the more, because I can see Him working in my life. Even in the darkest days, I knew that nothing I was going through was by chance or accident. I don't know all of the whys, but I'm really ok with that.
Even if you don't like what is going on in your life, God has His purpose for it. Will you fight Him or trust Him?