Does the Bible teach that God’s providence works in human events to care for His people and accomplish His purposes?
What is God’s will for our lives?
Do the unexpected events that occur in our lives demonstrate the work and will of the Lord working to influence our choices and decisions?
These are questions each of us will face, sooner of later. They each relate to our word of the week, providence.
A short blog post cannot do justice to such a deep and grand theme. But its been on my mind. Hopefully these few thoughts will spur some further reflection for our readers.
(1) God created man with a purpose.
The Bible says that Christians are “called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28) His purpose existed before the creation of the world and was revealed and accomplished in Christ (Eph 1:11; 3:11). We have been created and called to glorify God and to be a part of His Spiritual Family (Eph 1:12-14; Titus 1:9; Rom. 12:5).
(2) Some things about the will of God are unconditional.
God’s plan for man’s salvation is unchanging. It is not subject to our interpretation. Speculation. Or emotions. Anything that leads one away from salvation that is in Christ, is not the will of God. The inspired Scripture gives all that we need “for life and godliness (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3).
(3) However, not everything that God desires for us necessarily happens.
It is apparent from the Garden of Eden that human kind possesses free will. We have the ability to choose to obey God. Or disobey. He doesn’t want us to perish, but rather desires our repentance (2 Pet 3:9)
(4) God allows us to make choices that fail to meet his approval.
Israel wanted a King. It was not God’s will, but he allowed it. In fact, He sent Samuel to anoint Saul as the first King (1 Sam. 8). The evil that occurs in the world is not the will of God, yet He allows it.
Judas betrayed Jesus. Peter denied Him. And Demas forsook Him. None of which was the will of God. But he allows individuals to make choices that prove to be detrimental to them in this life and even eternally.
(5) Yet, the Bible shows God working in the lives of those that honor Him in a non-miraculous manner.
One of the great examples is through the life of Joseph. Although the word “providence” is not used, we see God working in his life through the unfolding of natural events.
Joseph’s dreams caused His brothers to hate him and even desire to kill him. After being sold to Midianite traders, he landed in Egypt serving in Potipher’s house. When Joseph refused the seduction of Potipher’s wife, she lied about him and he was imprisoned. Left to languish in prison, he was forgotten for two years until Pharoah had a dream and the butler remembered Joseph had interpreted his dream.
After interpreting Pharoah’s dream, Joseph was promoted to second in command over all of Egypt. When his brothers came to Egypt seeking grain and finally Joseph revealed himself to them that he was alive, they feared for their own lives. Joseph’s response and insight into these events in his life speaks to his understanding of God’s providence.
“But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Gen 45:7) In fact, three times in this text Joseph affirms the working of God in his life to effect a positive outcome.
Paul Earnhart once commented that we can only understand God’s providence retrospectively. As we look back in our lives, like Joseph did, we can see the hand of God working for our ultimate good, even when it seems inconvenient, uncomfortable or undesirable.
God is alive and well. Working in our world today. Although not in a miraculous manner, but through His Sovereignty and Divine providence God can use us for His work. And can accomplish His will in our lives, if we are willing to be guided by the counsels of His Word.
Providence. Think about it. Allow yourself to be used to accomplish good. And to serve God.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman