When it Doesn’t Make Sense

By Melissa McLaughlin

When the first dancing lights of summer lit up our backyard, shouts rang through the house! Lightning bugs, lightning bugs, lightning bugs! We foraged through the plastic containers to find just the right “lightning bug home”. We chased and scampered back and forth through the yard flinging our arms to capture just one firefly, one carrier of God’s serene summertime fireworks display. If we were fast enough and gentle enough, we would collect the firefly and store it in our container for a temporary home, to be set free after a bit of reverent observation.

What wonder and joy watching a firefly up close and personal! “What makes it glow?” we always asked. My parents would offer a few explanations, but in the end I would think, “Only God knows.”

Only God knows. God is Sovereign. We say this, but what does it really mean?

God is Sovereign

In the Merriam Webster Dictionary this passage is used to describe the word “sovereign.”
Sovereign has everything to do with power. It often describes one who has supreme power or authority. God is described as “sovereign” in many Bible translations. In addition, to have sovereign power is to have absolute power—that is, power that cannot be checked by anyone or anything.
Sovereign can also mean supreme as in “of the most exalted kind.”

God is Sovereign. God is powerful. We say this, but what does it really mean?

God’s Revealed Will

From God’s revealed will, recorded in the Bible, we discover God’s character, God’s names, the extent of God’s power and God’s plan of redemption for humanity.

God’s power and sovereignty are at the core:
Nehemiah 9:6 – You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

God is the Creator of the universe and beyond.

That is power. Untouchable, untamable, unimaginable power.

In addition to God’s power, scripture teaches that God is also righteous, just, true, good and perfect.

If God is all-powerful, all-seeing, all-knowing and all-good…why do difficult, painful or bad things happen? Where is God when it doesn’t make sense?
2 Chronicles 20:6 – O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.

I used to cringe when I heard people say, “God is in control.”

I used to squirm in my seat when I heard the words, “Nothing catches God by surprise.”

If these comments are true, then why doesn’t God do something about evil, about sickness, about injustice, about poverty, about hatred, about, about, about…?

As I continued to grapple with God’s sovereignty and my frail, flawed humanity, one thing that has helped me navigate these haunting questions is to remember Jesus. God countered the greatest evil we will ever face, Satan and our own sin, with His own Son.

Through God’s masterful plan of redemption, on the cross Christ defeated Satan, hell, sin and death!

That is sovereign power! The power of grace, mercy, forgiveness and love! Unending power to heal and save!

God’s Will

God’s ultimate will is to redeem humankind from sin and put an end forever to Satan and all who follow him, that God’s redeemed creation may enjoy His presence and worship Him in the beauty of heaven. This ultimate will, this ultimate good, this ultimate grace, this ultimate justice will prevail. Of this we can be sure. As sure as every prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming, so will every prophecy be fulfilled at His second coming. Jesus will reign forever and ever!
Isaiah 45:22-23 – Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’
Philippians 2:9-11Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
If God is sovereign and God is good, where is God when it doesn’t make sense?

We don’t have all the answers. But we do have one answer. That answer is Jesus.

We are not in heaven yet. We live in a fallen world. Though God has ultimate control, he permits people to make their own choices. Even when those choices go against His will for us.

God’s Permissive Will

God could stop us if He wanted to. He is Sovereign. But He chooses not to stop us. In this, God is exerting His control, His power, His sovereignty, by allowing this to happen. Some people call this God’s permissive will.

In the same way that we could have kept the fireflies in plastic containers on those summer evenings long ago, instead we chose to set them free. We had power over the insects and we used that power to give freedom.

Another reason God allows difficult and painful things to happen is so that we turn to Him and press in more closely. For the gift of God Himself is the best blessing God can ever give. In God’s hands then, the worst of times can become a precious and sacred blessing.

God’s Ultimate Will

Adding to this, God has made clear to us His ultimate will – that any who will repent and accept Jesus, by faith, as their Savior and Lord, will one day be in heaven where there will be no more sorrow, tears or pain.

On the day you are told your loved one has cancer and fear imprisons your heart, remember God’s ultimate will…heaven is waiting up ahead for any who will accept Jesus.

On the day you hear that your loved one committed suicide and you find it difficult to take your next breath, remember God’s ultimate will…heaven is waiting up ahead for any who will accept Jesus.

On the day you learn that your loved one has a disability and you can’t see the next step forward, remember God’s ultimate will…heaven is waiting up ahead for any who will accept Jesus.

When the thing you have prayed for and waited for doesn’t happen…

When the addiction keeps calling,

When the healing doesn’t come,

When the spouse walks out,

When the career falls apart,

When you are broken,
When it doesn’t make sense…

Ask God to remind you that He is sovereign and He is good.

Though we don’t understand everything, we do understand Jesus.

Ask God to remind you of Jesus carrying your cross.

Ask God to help you see Jesus through the tears.

Ask God to give you a fresh vision of heaven.

That longing you feel for things to be made right?

That is a longing for heaven, where only God is powerful enough and good enough to make all things right once and for all. Let that deep soul-longing lead you to the only answer we have…the answer is Jesus.

He is the light in the darkest night. When we gain peace with God through Jesus, we also gain the peace of God through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit. In some ways, we are still like a child asking the reason for the firefly’s light. Only God knows all things. But we can rest in His sovereignty and goodness when we don’t understand, for Jesus has said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:5

One glorious day, it will be!

And because of Jesus we will shine like the stars in the heavens! Daniel 12:1-3

Additional Resources:

Peace on Earth! But What Kind of Peace Did Jesus Bring? By Melissa McLaughlin

3 Prayers of Hope By Melissa McLaughlin

47 thoughts on “When it Doesn’t Make Sense”

    • Well said, brother! When the trials come, our faith is really tested. But in some ways, we can actually thank God for this, for our faith has the chance to be proven not only to God, but also to ourselves! He is sovereign and He is good. We know this because we have seen Jesus!

  1. LOVE THIS SO! A timeless and needed message.

    “Another reason God allows difficult and painful things to happen is so that we turn to Him and press in more closely. For the gift of God Himself is the best blessing God can ever give. In God’s hands then, the worst of times can become a precious and sacred blessing.”

    So much truth stated here! Those seasons of darkness and brokenness were awful to go through! But looking back each and every one of them has shaped and molded me. Removed things not of God. And grown my faith. Some of them still don’t make sense and may never make perfect sense, but each experience made me who I am. And I’m so thankful for that.

    And yes! Heaven!!! I can’t wait!

    • God bless you, Cheyenne! And thank you for the insights and kind encouragement! You expressed this so well – our times of darkness and brokenness shape us more into the image of Christ, if we yield to the Potter’s hands. Though it hurts, it is always a blessing for God to remove the things in our lives that are not of Him. Adding to this is the power of a strengthened faith and the anticipation of heaven! How He loves us!

  2. Oh that was absolutely beautiful. I love Jesus. It has taking me a long time to realise this, but I love Jesus with all my heart. He is my saviour, my teacher and my very best friend. He also protects me from the sleazy clutches of Satan…clutches which had a firm hold of me for a very long time until I was saved.
    Melissa, you have never failed to lift me up. You continue to lift me right up in more ways than one. Firstly, you lift me with your prayers, and secondly, you have carried me to Jesus and helped me to know him more and more…and I just know you will continue to carry me with your wonderful blogs.
    Thank you for everything, my dear sweet sister Melissa

    • Jimmy, what a great joy to read your comments! All glory to our precious Lord Jesus that God is helping you through my small words! I am rejoicing with you and all of heaven that your spiritual eyes have been opened to see Jesus as our beautiful servant Savior and powerful Lord! There is nothing that matters more in this whole existence than knowing, surrendering to and loving Jesus! I am lifting you in prayer right now, that the Holy Spirit will continue to renew your mind through the scriptures, draw you close through prayer and help you absorb more and more the amazing love that Jesus poured out for us on the cross. We didn’t deserve it. We couldn’t earn it. It is all His grace, mercy, forgiveness and love! One of my favorite quotes is by Ravi Zacharias, “There is only one place where evil, justice, love and forgiveness intersect. The cross of Jesus Christ.” What a powerful Savior and what powerful love! God bless you, my dear brother in Christ! I’m cheering for you, Jimmy!

  3. You handled a very difficult topic with grace and trust. You really need both of those to understand why bad things happen, especially to good people. It’s a matter of trusting in God’s goodness, knowing he can see all things, and he knows the ripple effect of all things – how they will play out through time. We can trust that his goodness lies not only in his being, but also in this omniscience.

    • Thank you for those thoughtful insights, Lisa! Yes, this is a difficult topic, but it is one we must address, for it gnaws at the hearts and minds of everyone. You make a very good point, God’s omniscience and transcendence give Him the understanding and all-encompassing vision to see the span of history all at once. As you say, “he knows the ripple effect of all things.” So when things don’t make sense, we can trust that God can see the final outcome and is working things out for His gory and our good.

  4. I love this: “He is the light in the darkest night. When we gain peace with God through Jesus, we also gain the peace of God through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit. ”

    We don’t always see the light on the path in the darkness. But when we look back we know He was there all along.

  5. Amen! Just today I was praying with someone, and we asked God to help us trust in His sovereignty. He truly holds it all together, when it feels so unstable to us. Thank you for these precious confirmations, Melissa. It seems so often when I pause here to read, the words are Heaven-sent. May you be blessed tonight.

    • Dear Bettie, I love when the Holy Spirit aligns our thoughts and confirms His message to us! Though this message is not an easy one. Trusting in God’s sovereignty does indeed feel unstable. It is a great act of faith and those scriptures we love to quote like “We walk by faith not by sight,” seem to become more real than we would like. I know, dear sister, that you are living this out in real time. But I also know you are being refined like pure gold for Christ. How you shine already! May we remain steadfast and immovable, for our Savior never stepped away from the road to Calvary. Bless you, dear Bettie! Praying you have a restful night.

    • Ahh, dear Alethea, I love that song! Thank you for bringing that to my mind.
      By and by, when the morning comes, when the saints of God are gathered home, we’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome, for we’ll understand it better by and by.
      And you are right, we will be in His glorious presence and we will never doubt His sovereignty again! Bless you, dear sister!

  6. I needed this today as I struggle with some health challenges that require complicated answers, book reading, homework, and lot of changes. Great timing by the Lord to inspire your beautiful words, Melissa, “just for me”: “When you are broken, When it doesn’t make sense…Ask God to remind you that He is sovereign and He is good. Though we don’t understand everything, we do understand Jesus. Ask God to remind you of Jesus carrying your cross. Ask God to help you see Jesus through the tears. Ask God to give you a fresh vision of heaven.” Yes, there he is! I see him!

    • Dear Melinda, I thank God if He could work through my words to speak to you today! How He moves is a wonder to behold! Your writing always moves my heart, so I am humbled if the Lord used me to do the same for you. I’m lifting you in prayer, dear sister. May you see Jesus once again on the road to Calvary, in all His agony, that your heart may be ever tender toward our precious Savior. May His gentle and unending love lift and sustain you this day body, mind and spirit. Blessings and love to you!

      • My bones are being ground to powder—my autoimmune disease has produced osteoporosis, and I’m working through so much info and literature about the natural way to turn this around. Pray I can absorb it, and all the extra calcium and magnesium and vitamin D needed and can entrust my bones to the Lord! Today on my blog I wrote about the Lord stripping us to the bone. Yes! In this case literally.

      • I am praying for every word you have shared. He is able, sister! Oh God, You are the Mighty One! Show yourself mighty on Melinda’s behalf! Blanket her in your peace that passes all understanding. Holy Spirit, guide her research, her reading and her thinking. Give her a calm, clear mind. Help her see only the next step and then the next step. Block any voices or advice not from you. Help her navigate the options and choose the very best one for her body. Lord God, you made her, your know her body and her heart. Send Your powerful healing touch in Jesus’ name, that she may glorify You and honor You with all the gifts she has been given. Restore her very bones, by your Spirit. Dry bones, come alive, in Jesus’ name! May her restored body and life be a display of your glory! Move through every cell in her body to allow it to absorb the nutrients needed. You are the Creator and Re-Creator, so we ask for new health, new growth and new strength in Melinda’s body. Have mercy, oh God! Through it all, help Melinda draw ever closer and let see her Savior more clearly. For you are the greatest treasure we could ever have. Let her feel your everlasting arms holding her up. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

      • Oh my, amen, sister! You’re the first person who has prayed for me specifically through every microscopic bit of this new diagnosis! Thank you so much for coming alongside. Your intercessory prayer is in line with the Spirit and the Scriptures in every way! Thank you so much! 🙏🏼❤️

    • I too, have been struggling with some health issues, and this post does seem heaven-sent for me also. God does work in mysterious ways. Our lives are flooded with his light in the worst of times. It is as if He draws near to us and cradles us in His everlasting arms. The love wells up inside of us, and comes to us in a multitude of ways…even in blogs like this one!

      • Dear Linda, I am sorry to hear about your health concerns. I am lifting you in prayer right now. May the Holy Spirit bring healing and strength to every part of your life. There is a Charles Spurgeon quote I love, “Thank God for the wave that crashes you against the Rock of Ages.” May we sense His everlasting arms holding us close. Thank you for the insights and words of encouragement you have poured out here, despite the struggles you are facing. You are a great blessing!

  7. I have to remember it’s not God being absent or ignoring or just deciding to not do anything, but that it’s sin. This is not the world as God created it, but you are so right in that if our hope is in Jesus, we can trust He will restore it as He has promised one day!

    • So true, Emily! And it’s not easy, because we want our prayer and petitions answered now. I love how you express this: “This is not the world as God created it.” One day the beauty of the first Garden will be restored and because of Jesus, we will be there in perfect, glorious beauty!

    • Dear Linda, how very kind of you! May each of us let our little lights shine! Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, He fills us with such love, I pray it keeps spilling out through your words and mine! God bless you and keep you, dear sister!

  8. Another powerful and comforting post, Melissa. I often remind myself and others of God’s sovereignty. Setting the fireflies free is a perfect example. So many times we want to celebrate God’s mercy, love, goodness, and grace. All wonderful things we need and that make Him God. But other attributes like holiness, just, judge, and sovereignty also make Him God. We deny His full Lordship when we only celebrate one aspect of His character.

    • Karen, your words ring with such truth! It is a slippery slope when we deny God’s Lordship, by brushing off His sovereignty, holiness, justice and judgment. He is still God! In His mercy, He reaches out to save us. But it is His mercy! Sometimes we start feeling this is our right, rather than a mercy given. Lord Jesus, keep us humble before you.

  9. Thank you, Melissa. This is beautiful. The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink has helped me understand more of His relationship to his creation than any other book. It is now available online in the public domain. Much love and blessings as you continue to share the grace of our Lord.

    • Dear Frances, thank you for reading and sharing your insights. I plan to add “The Sovereignty of God” to my reading list. It sounds like a very valuable foundation to our faith in Christ, who is both Savior and Lord. God bless you and your ministry!

  10. Thank you, Melissa. Very well written, and true! God is sovereign, He is good, and He is also very wise. We need to trust Him completely, no matter what — He will take care of us — and of everything — in His way, and in His time.

    • Thank you for the words of encouragement! Glory to God for His grace and help. I appreciate your reminder that along with sovereignty and goodness, God is also very wise. He knows and understands things far beyond our small view of life. May we rest again today, in His sovereignty, goodness AND wisdom. Blessings to you!

    • Thank you, Teresa, for taking the time to read and share your feedback. Praise God for His goodness and His Word, so we can rest in Him even in the tough times. May we long for Christ more and more when the storm waves crash. Bless you!

  11. Yes… there is God, who is always with us. The one who has created us… we love him/her because he loves us unconditionally. There is always happiness and joy when there is God in our life, even materialistically we suffer, but still we are content and happy, ready to walk on anything laughing, enjoying life joyfully , when he is there.


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