A man’s steps are ordained by the LORD, how then can man understand his way?
God’s sovereignty combined with man’s freewill makes for a mysterious dance that theologians and laymen have grappled with for centuries. You will make a myriad of choices today that exercise your freewill, yet, regardless of those choices, God’s ultimate plans and purposes will be achieved. Although God’s sovereignty can be a mysterious thing, His love and care for you is not.
God ordains our steps – He guides our way. Ordain means to decree or order…to establish or legislate. For some Christians this is relatively easy because they know God’s revealed will in the Scriptures and quickly and consistently submit to that will, which brings God’s power and blessings to bear. For others, it’s a much more painful process. God works in and through their lives as He interacts with their rebellion, self-will, and self-seeking ways. For them, the process is more about guidance through correction. It takes longer and involves more pain and frustration, but God’s will still ultimately wins out.
The second half of today’s verse asks a question, “How then can man understand his way?” Deuteronomy 29:29 reminds us that “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” We simply can’t know all of God’s ways, and that fact is one of the central points in the story of Job. He walked with God and was considered blameless, yet he faced incredible suffering for God’s ultimate purposes. Several of his friends thought they had the answer – but they were wrong. Another friend, Elihu, asks Job a series of questions – as does God – but none of them really give an answer to the burning questions we have about Job’s troubles. In the end, we should come to the conclusion that God is in charge, God is good, and therefore we can trust Him.
We don’t get all of our questions answered, and for most of us that can be quite frustrating. Yet, the more you understand God’s character – His goodness, love, compassion, and kindness – the less concerned you are with His sovereignty. You can rest in His loving hands, even though you don’t understand all His ways.