Is God sovereign or is He good?

Sexual Abuse

Last Sunday’s sermon at my church was about God’s sovereignty. It’s a simple idea: Nothing in the universe is beyond the reaches of its Creator’s control (Psalm 104:19).

Hardly controversial for Christians, right? Wrong. The conundrum enters when we also consider God is infinitely good (Nahum 1:7). 

I was sexually abused when I was 8. It’s difficult to see—at least in human terms—the good in that circumstance. It took me more than 15 years to talk about what happened to me, and to this day it makes me uncomfortable. 

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For years I thought my situation was an isolated incident, but we all know that’s not the case. Statistics show one-in-six males will experience sexual abuse before age 18. For girls, it’s one-in-four. 

In recent weeks the headlines have been filled with stories: Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for molesting 10 boys; the Boy Scouts of America failed to protect thousands of boys from being sexually abused by Scout leaders, even allowing volunteer relocation to victimize many more; a famed and now-deceased BBC broadcaster was allegedly a serial sex offender, abusing scores of children (300 have come forward) and leading to an investigation of at least nine other BBC employees; three women have sued Sovereign Grace Ministries, claiming the church covered up accusations of sexual abuse and discouraged church members from cooperating with authorities. 

Every time a scandal breaks, a part of me is glad to have more of the larger story out in the open: Our culture is riddled with sexual abuse, and it’s time we face it. At the same time I also hate these stories, because it means hearing more disgusting details, more uninformed people speaking on the issue, more people excusing the inexcusable—and when they do, the knife twists a little more into every victim.

Recently, the stories once again turned personal for me: An extended family member—a former missionary—was accused of molesting at least four children. I have a feeling more allegations are forthcoming. 

Once again, we find ourselves back to the question: Is God sovereign or is He good? 

I can say with the utmost certainty He is both. We need to look no further than the cross for assurance. God, in His infinite grace, gave us more than we could ever hope or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) in the person of Jesus Christ. God’s sovereignty was on full display when His Son was crushed to appease God’s wrath and pay a debt we could never pay. In the process, we are made joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17). 

If that’s not good, I don’t know what is.

J.C. Derrick
J.C. Derrick

J.C. is WORLD Magazine's Washington Bureau chief. He spent 10 years covering sports, higher education, and politics for the Longview News-Journal and other newspapers in Texas before joining WORLD in 2012. Follow J.C. on Twitter @jcderrick1.


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