What is the providence of God? Hang in there with me…don’t let your eyes glaze over because this post is intended to be one of great encouragement and comfort.
During the American Civil War, letters to home from soldiers on both sides often referenced the “providence of God.” On the eve of battle, soldiers wrote to their wives or parents about their fears and of the uncertainty of what would happen to them on the morrow and spoke often of their lives being in the hands of Providence.
Today, most Christians have no understanding what the providence of God is about. I like Adam Smith’s reference to God’s providence as the “invisible hand of God.” In other words, God’s providence is God accomplishing His will and good pleasure behind the scenes. Because God is invisible to us, we often fail to recognize His active presence in human affairs. But God is at work in the details of our daily lives. The providence of God means that God is involved in the affairs of people.
Let me give you two great examples from the Bible. In Genesis 50:20, we see that God has used Joseph to bring about salvation for Jacob and his family, and thereby preserving the Messianic promises to Abraham. In order for this to happen, many evil acts were committed. Joseph’s brothers sold him to slave traders and then told their father that Joseph had been torn to pieces by a wild animal and submitted Joseph’s coat which they had dipped in blood, as evidence.
These acts are contrary to God's moral will. But God used these heinous acts to bring about His saving purposes. His brothers mistreated him, as did Potiphar's wife and others. But God used all of that mistreatment to further His saving purposes. Joseph sums this up for his brothers when he says in Gen. 50:20, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”
The 2nd example of God’s invisible hand is seen in the birth of Moses. Moses's mother decided to put him in a basket covered with tar and put it along the reeds of the Nile (Exodus 2:2, 3). She had no specific revelation from God to do that, she simply made her decision. It just so happened that the daughter of Pharaoh went to bathe in the Nile. It just so happened she saw the basket, had it fetched from the river, and then saw Moses crying in it. It just so happened that she decided to keep Moses alive despite the fact that he was a Hebrew child. It just so happened that she permitted Moses' sister to find a nurse who chose Moses' own mother. It just so happened that Moses became the son of Pharaoh's daughter. There was no revealed will of God given to any of the people involved—they were making decisions as they saw fit. But behind the scenes God was providentially fulfilling His promise to Abraham. He planned to use Moses to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt as a great people.
The details are no problem for God. One implication of this is that our thoughts and decisions are part of God's providence. God uses seeming random decisions to accomplish His will.
Paul reminds us that no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, God is still in control.
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:35-39.
And in Ephesians 1:11, Paul tells us that “God accomplishes all things according to the counsel of His will.”
I could go on and on citing various examples from the Bible, whether it be Ruth and Naomi, Esther, Samson, David, Jeremiah, Jonah, etc.
But here’s the take away from all this: God wants you to know that whatever you are going through, at this very moment, it’s no surprise to Him. The one who has the very hairs on your head numbered is still in control. He hasn’t dropped the ball, and He hasn’t forgotten about you. No matter how dark your circumstance may look or feel, He is working out his will and good pleasure in your life, just as He was doing when He allowed Joseph to be sold on the auction block as a slave, and spend 10-13 yrs in prison before being promoted to 2nd in command in all of Egypt.
Trust in the Lord, that He is at work and His Invisible Hand is directing your steps even through the most difficult and trying circumstances, even when you don’t see it or feel like you’ve been forsaken.
For the believer, there are no accidents, no luck, no chance, no fate—we have the Lord directing everything that happens in our life, by His Invisible Hand, for His will and good pleasure, and for our benefit as well. Trust in the Lord. He’s still on the throne, He is still Lord and He is still in control of your life!!