Question 27 asks: What do you understand by the providence of God? Answer: Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which He upholds, as with His hand, heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty – all things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from His fatherly hand.
God not only created everything, He also “upholds” (sustains) everything. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that “…he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Again, in Colossians 1:17, we read that “in him all things hold together.” Truly, as the apostle Paul said in Acts 17, “in Him we live and move and have our being.”
But God does more than just sustain His creation: He also controls and governs everything about it. Everything. We speak of “accidents” and of “chance” and “luck,” but these things do not exist in God’s economy. Indeed, Scripture tells us that not even a sparrow falls to the ground apart from the will of the Father. From the smallest atom, to planets hurtling through space, every single detail of creation is perfectly and absolutely controlled by God.
Many people have no difficulty speaking of the providence of God when it comes to those things easily seen as blessings: the fruitful years, health, prosperity, etc. But they often stop short when it comes to circumstances not so clearly perceived as blessings: the lean years, sickness, poverty, etc. We quote Romans 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…” – but we shrink from the “all things” and try to soft pedal God’s sovereignty. We reason, “Surely this sickness/death/job loss/etc. is not from the hand of God. Still, I will trust that God will somehow work this difficulty out, turning it to some sort of good for me.”
Wrong! God, in His divine providence, is sovereign over both the good and the bad. Hebrews 1:11 tells us that God works all things “according to the counsel of His will” – His will being that end which He ordained from before the foundation of the earth. God has a plan for your life, and He is purposefully and precisely working to accomplish that plan through both the joyful and the sorrowful, both the pleasant and the painful. Everything that comes to us in this life, comes to us from His fatherly hand.
Did you, like me, lose a grandbaby? Maybe you received a bad report from the oncologist’s office. Maybe you lost your job. Those things did not happen because a sneaky Satan somehow managed to get a jab at you while God wasn’t looking. God isn’t scrambling to somehow “make good” after dropping the ball. No! God has been orchestrating every detail of your life all along.
Which leads to Question28: How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us? Answer: We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from His love. All creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they can neither move nor be moved.
Do you feel like things are going against you right now? Be patient, and persevere. Our mighty, loving Father is working in you, even as He worked in Joseph, who toiled long years as a slave in Egypt (Genesis 37, 39-46). Are things going well right now? Thank God for this season of sweet refreshment! Are you worried about tomorrow? Take heart: if you are in Christ, nothing can separate you from the love of your heavenly Father.
For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. – Psalm 135:5-6