Q. 7. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.
– The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Whatsoever comes to pass really does cover everything, all the bases as they say. Everything you experience during every day of your existence comes under its span. Whatsoever comes to pass means – the good, the bad and the ugly, and God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.
Well, it’s one thing to recite a catechism answer, it’s quite another thing to believe it and live by it.
I’m at a time in my life now where I go to more funerals than weddings. I’ve had a relative in hospital and heard of a ten year old girl in great suffering. All I have to do is switch on the television and the news shows the harrowing lives of people for whom the phrase ‘Whatsoever comes to pass’ means being exiled from their homes, losing everything they ever owned and everyone they ever loved. Men, women and children risk it all in a desperate struggle to cross the Mediterranean. For many living for Christ in the Middle East and North Africa, ‘Whatsoever comes to pass’ means martyrdom.
Several years ago a post came onto my Facebook account about a young child whose buggy had rolled into the path of an oncoming commuter train. Captured on CCTV you could see the mother’s anguish as the buggy, containing her young child, came into contact with the engine, but due to the fact that at that moment the speed of the train had considerably slowed down the toddler miraculously survived. However, the word miraculously wasn’t heard much in the news reports. Not many people praised God for the amazing outcome of what could otherwise have been a terrible tragedy. One of my friends commented on the fact that if it had turned out for the worse a lot of comments would have questioned the goodness of God. “How could a God of love let that happen?”
When things go wrong God is often criticised even by people who do not believe in him. We all need to recognise that the sovereign will of God is the bedrock of all life – for those who believe, and those who don’t. Whatever happens in the lives of God’s children happens for our good. “Whatsoever comes to pass” is God’s plan. But when we complain, as we do, about the pain, the grief, the injustice… we must acknowledge our own part. As sinners we are responsible for sin and its consequences. However, here’s another thing that we learn from the phrase “Whatsoever comes to pass”. It reminds us that everything does pass – the moment we’re just entering, and the moments we will witness in the coming days, months, years – they will all pass. There is a future but one day it will be the past and there is an eternity … a heaven to look forward to, a hell to shun.
In this life we are not promised a stress free, pain free, happy existence. “Whatsoever comes to pass” will mean suffering. But ultimately, for the believer, it will mean joy. There is joy in the Lord, joy in salvation, and God’s Word tells us that where there is sorrow there will be joy. Weeping may endure for a night; but joy cometh in the morning. I have a certain affinity with Psalm 30:5 as I remember an elderly relative of mine, when announcing his marriage in the Glasgow Herald, quoted that verse of scripture. Both he and his future wife had lost their previous spouses to death, one very shortly after the birth of an infant daughter. Life is hard. There is death. There is disease. Tears fall. Hearts break.
I know that in the future there will be more funerals, and one of them will be mine. But as I think about the ten year old girl who was seriously ill, I thank God that she is out of danger. Her future is only known to God. There will be medications and treatments for sure … but “Whatsoever comes to pass” means that she is home, in the arms of her parents and those who prayed for her give a sigh of relief.
“Whatsoever comes to pass” will be something similar but eternally greater for you if you trust in Christ. It will mean being in the arms of your Heavenly Father – and you will give a sigh of relief as he wipes away every tear from your eyes.
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them,
and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters:
and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.