The Providence of God
The Providence of God
Our topic today is one that everyone has an opinion about “The Providence of God”. Yet when we listen to the opinions of others we usually don’t agree on a whole lot about the Providence of God. The most important thing is what does God say about His Providence? I would like to begin with the story I heard several years ago by John Yates.
The only survivor of a shipwrecked washed up on a small uninhabited island. He cried out to God to save him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seem forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a rough hut and put his few possessions in it. But then one day, after hunting for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; he was stunned with grief.
Early the next morning, though, a ship drew near the island and rescued him. “How did you know I was here?” He asked the crew. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.
Though it may not seem so now, your present difficulties may be instrumental in your future happiness.
The idea of God’s providence runs throughout Scripture. Providence comes from a Latin expression that means “foresight”. It refers to God’s knowledge of the future, coupled with His response in taking care of His creation and caring for His people. Some of the characteristics of God’s providence defy our comprehension. Nobody has an explanation of why so much human misery persists in this world. Why is suffering so indiscriminate? Why isn’t suffering melt out only to those who deserve it? Why do the innocent suffer from actions and events over which they have no control and often cannot foresee? Why doesn’t God intervene to prevent suffering? These are questions that can only be answered when we look into God’s Word. I can’t answer these questions. What I am going to attempt to do is to increase your trust in God. Our trust in God depends upon our faith.
I agree with Paul Johnson where he writes in his book “The Quest for God”. “I suspect that the problem of evil drives more thoughtful people away from religion than any other difficulty”. Julian Huxley wrote that “the existence of evil is a challenging to God’s moral character”.
God allows us to suffer the consequences of our own selfish, shortsighted behavior – Jeremiah 2: 19 and Jeremiah 10:23. Both of these passages reinforce the idea that we are victims of our own selfish choices.
In Daniel 2:21 we read that God can remove wicked men from power. And in Daniel 5:18-19 God has the sovereignty to execute whoever He wishes. Why doesn’t God remove evil and pain from the world? Max Lucado makes a statement in one of his books. “If there were a thousand steps between us and God, He will take all but one. He will leave the final one for us. The choice is ours.” Why do we do wrong things? Sometimes the devil tells us to do something wrong and we listen to him. We need to learn to listen to God instead.
For centuries theologians have debated the relationship of God’s sovereignty to His Providence and have sometimes reached differing conclusions especially about the nature of the freedom people possess. But Scripture is clear about much we can agree on. God’s providence is related to other distinguishing attributes: God is all-powerful – and thus sovereign, all-knowing – especially of the future, perfectly wise, and abounding in love. These qualities work together as God exercise His benevolent guardianship over creation, governments, people, and events. God is sovereign (all-powerful) and He is good.
God’s intention is categorized under a subject called the Providence of God. This is a term that we used to acknowledge God’s intentions in our affairs. What is right or wrong in using this term “The Providence of God”?
We always use the expression “the Providence of God” in connection with good events. You never hear anyone say “in the Providence of God I had an accident and was paralyzed from the waist down”. We are reluctant to attribute “bad” things to the intervening hand of God. We almost never use the term “the Providence of God” to imply that God intervenes at specific points in our lives.
In his book Harold Kushner’s “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”, he states God is only interested in spectacular events in our lives. He is reducing God’s control over our lives to a stop and go, or in and out, he is saying God is in our lives and out of our lives. What he is saying is “I am the master of my fate”. I have been the victim of unhappy circumstances or uncaring people that crossed my path. God controls all events of our lives, all activities, all events, and all actions God does all this for His own glory. God is not a stop and go God He is not a part-time God.
God’s Providence is His constant care for and His absolute rule over all His creation for His own glory and the good of His Children. Nothing escapes His care and control, not even the smallest virus.
These are two objectives that God has: (1) for His own glory, (2) for the good of His children. These two are always in harmony with each other.
God never pursues His glory at the expense of His children. God does not seek our good at the expense of His glory. He has designed His eternal purpose so that His glory and our good are one in the same.
God’s glory and what is good for us are bound together. Knowing that in believing that is a great encouragement and comfort to His children. Knowing and believing this is part of learning to trust God in adversity. This clearly affirms that we can trust God. God cares for us constantly, not just occasionally. God governs all the effects of our lives.
What events in your life (both good and bad) can you definitely relate to the Providence of God?