The comfort of Divine Providence

Life is not random

By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability and expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, altho’ death was levelling my companions on every side.
George Washington, letter to John A. Washington July 18, 1755

The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.
George Washington letter to Thomas Nelson
 August 20, 1778

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. – Hebrews 1:3

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:17

You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. – Nehemiah 9:6

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will… – Ephesians 1:11

For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
7 He seals up the hand of every man,
that all men whom he made may know it.
8 Then the beasts go into their lairs,
and remain in their dens.
9 From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
10 By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
12 They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
13 Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen. – Job 37:6-13

These (creatures) all look to you,
to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust. – Psalm 104:27-29

The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord. – Proverbs 16:33

For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations. – Psalm 22:28

A man’s steps are from the Lord;
how then can man understand his way? – Proverbs 20:24

The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
7 but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another. – Psalm 75:6-7

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  – Genesis 50:20

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. – Romans 8:28-30

The term “Providence” is largely lost in our contemporary vocabulary. I would love to see it restored with its full meaning. It is a powerful word communicating a concept that is of great comfort to those who have fled to the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Providence may be defined as God’s continual involvement with all created things in such a way that he (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and (3) directs them to fulfill his purposes. (Thanks to Wayne Grudem in Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine for this definition.)

An understanding of Providence is essential for a person to have a Biblical worldview.

Because God preserves his creation, science is possible.

God “works” all things according to his will. The idea behind the word “works” in Ephesians 1:11 (Greek energeo) indicates that he actively “brings about” all things according to his will. This undermines any concept of Deism where God made the creation like a clock, wound it up and then left it to run on its own.

Inanimate Creation

God is involved in the falling snow, the falling rain, and the freezing ice. He causes the grass to grow, and the plants to bring forth food from the earth for man and beast alike.

Animals

God feeds the animals and when he chooses to withhold his blessing they die. He also feeds the birds of the air so that none fall to the ground without his knowing about it.

“Random” events

Even the casting of lots is determined by God.

Nations

It is God who determines the leadership of nations and which one’s are exalted and which are abased.

Our lives

This is where we really have a hard time. We make our plans in life, but it is God who determines the outcome of our life. We like to think we are the masters of our destiny, or at least we can be, but the truth of Scripture says otherwise. It is the Providence of Almighty God who determines the outcome of our lives.

The best news ever about Providence

All who have placed, or will place, their trust in Jesus Christ have a destiny that was determined before the foundation of the earth and cannot be thwarted. We are destined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, also referred to as “glorified.” This is the product of Providence. What comfort that the ultimate outcome of our lives is anchored in the New Earth in the presence of Almighty God, the maker of heaven and earth.

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  • Ted Hamilton

    You’re right — it’s one thing to believe in general; it’s another to believe for your own life, especially in those times when Providence is dark. But the Romans 8 promise that we will be glorified — what a great comfort in all things. Thanks, Charles!