The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Providence
The lnvisible Hand of God
The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
Although the term providence is not found in most modern translations of the Bible, the concept is certainly biblical. It refers to “God’s gracious oversight of the universe,” which means that He upholds all things, governs all events, and directs everything to its appointed end, all the time and in every circumstance, always for His own glory.
The doctrine of God’s providence teaches us several important truths. First, God cares about the tiniest details of life. He knows when a sparrow falls, and He numbers the hairs on your head. He keeps track of the stars in the skies and the rivers that flow to the oceans. He sets the day of your birth and the day of your death, and He ordains everything that comes to pass in between. Second, He uses everything and wastes nothing. There are no accidents with God, only incidents. This includes events that seem to us to be senseless tragedies. Third, God s ultimate purpose is to shape His children into the image of Jesus [Christ] (Romans 8:29). He often uses difficult moments and human tragedies to accomplish that purpose.
Many verses in the Bible teach these truths, including Acts 17:28 (“in him we live and move and have our being”); Colossians 1:17 (“in him all things hold together”); Hebrews 1:3 (“sustaining all things by his powerful word”); and especially Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”
When a cowboy applied for health insurance, the agent routinely asked if he had had any accidents during the previous year. The cowboy replied, “No. But I was bitten by a rattlesnake, and a horse kicked me in the ribs. That laid me up for a while.” The agent said, “Weren’t those accidents?” “No,” replied the cowboy, “they did it on purpose.” The cowboy realized that there are no such things as “accidents.” How about you, Christian? Do you believe that some things catch God by surprise?
If we understand God’s providence, it will set us free from bitterness. Like Joseph, we will be able to say, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20, NKJV). It will give us a new perspective on the tragedies of life. Not that we will always understand why bad things happen-often we won’t. But providence teaches us that God is involved, for we know that “all things work together for good” for the children of God.
A friend came to my office recently with the sad news that his marriage was over. The details don t matter, but his reaction was worth noting. After wiping away the tears, he told me about a Christian song he had been listening to. He said it contained one statement that sustained him during the worst moments: “Life is hard but God is good.”
In the end, we are all forced to make a choice. Either we believe that or we don t. We all know that life is hard. The doctrine of providence assures us that even in the worst moments of life God is good.
Give me, O Lord, a large supply of Your grace so that I may submit to You in every trial and trust You even when walking in the darkness. Amen.
How do you reconcile the truth of God’s providence with the truth of human responsibility for our own actions?
What does it mean to you to say that “God is good all the time"?
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