The 1950’s movie, Quo Vadis, was set in 1st century Rome describing the time when Christianity was spreading across the Empire and Nero was persecuting Christians.
Actress Deborah Kerr played the female lead as a committed Christian. Finally, because of her faith, she was fed to the lions. Later a reporter asked Kerr, “Weren’t you afraid when you knew that you were going to be thrown to the lions?”
“No” she replied. “I read the script before I accepted the role.”
Kerr’s response reminded me that God has given us a script. Furthermore, we can be assured that regardless of what happens in our lives, that God, in his divine providence can fashion a favorable outcome.
Providence is composed of two words: “Pro” means before. And “video” means “to see.” Thus, Providence is “to see before.” God is able to see into the future what we cannot see.
One of the best Bible examples is found in the life of the Patriarch, Joseph.
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 Pharaoh had a dream and the butler remembered Joseph had interpreted his dream.
After interpreting Pharaoh’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 speak 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 45:5)
Three times in chapter 45 Joseph affirms that God was working in his life to affect a positive outcome.
Paul Earnhart once commented that we can only understand God’s providence retrospectively. It’s difficult to see when we’re muddling along in the middle of some mess in our lives.
I doubt Joseph understood God’s providence when he was thrown into the pit by his envious brothers. Or when he was falsely accused by Mrs. Potipher. Or during his imprisonment. But he did later.
This narrative reminds us that not everything in life is what it seems to be on the surface. Joseph’s brothers thought he was being presumptuous, pompous and prideful in relating his dreams. However, they were God’s way of foretelling the future.
Joseph may have thought he was forgotten, not only by the butler but by God as he was confined to prison. But he was not. Joseph’s brothers were sure that he would seek revenge for their sin against him, but he did not. Joseph now understood, “God sent me before.”
There have been times in my life when I was mistreated. When circumstances forced me to move before I was ready. The timing was inconvenient and uncomfortable. Yet, in looking back, wonderful opportunities, new friendships, and personal growth resulted from an initially undesirable situation.
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.
Don’t worry. God’s writing the script. He sees. He hears. He knows. He cares. He provides. Eventually, all things will work out for our eternal good.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman