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BENEFITS OF PROVIDENCE

Belief in Providence is not without its benefits. Since Providence is so extensive, embracing every aspect of reality, then in the same manner acceptance of Providence has implications for all of life.

Providence compels the believer to accept the events of life that come his way, both good and bad. All of life is ordered; that is, there is meaning and purpose to our existence—chance and luck are not in the believer’s vocabulary. This is not a difficult thought to accept when things are good, but the belief is questioned when events are appalling. It must be the focus of the believer’s reflection that, because of Providence, all things work together for good. This is the very essence of Providence.

Though I may not understand, I can rest in assurance that the evil events and people that enter my life are there fulfilling His purpose, and His purpose is for my good. So a certain meekness, coupled with acceptance in the midst of all that happens, finds a more prominent place in the believer’s life as he is enabled to embrace Sovereignty and its full meaning; and assuming such a posture insures psychological stability and provides a basis for true theological belief.

Providence requires that you accept yourself the way God made you. Some individuals struggle throughout their lives with their physique and appearance, thinking that they are not sufficiently attractive to gain attention from others or to accomplish their goals in a culture that places priority on style and impression. Or they may bemoan their intellectual ability, thinking that if they were more blessed they could be more effective. But each person is the way he or she is because that is the way God intended the individual to be, whether it is the color of eyes, hair, skin tone, height, intelligence quotient, or other features. You are the way you are because He made you the way you are! A good self-image begins with an accurate concept of God's Providence.

Some readers may observe that all the biological features in the previous paragraph are the result of genetics, and that is true; but God is the God of genetics and uses them for His purpose. Behind all secondary causes is the Primary Cause.

Providence teaches the believer not to be anxious about basic needs. Our well-being, both today and tomorrow, is in His hands. Fear and worry that may preoccupy the thinking, fear of the present and worry regarding the future, are undermined by Providence; there is trust in God for the immediate and for what is ahead, rather than a lingering apprehension about today and a growing distress over the future.

There is no uncertainty because the One who knows the future and is in control of the future is with the believer. The idea of fate working against me is not entertained.  

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things (Matt. 6:25-32).

In the above verses the question is asked by Jesus: “So why do you worry . . .?” And twice He gives the admonition: “Do not worry.” He teaches that we are not to be anxious because we have a “heavenly Father” who “knows” that we have need of that which is necessary to maintain life.

Providence motivates the follower to be grateful. One’s thankfulness for the benefits of Providence increases as one grows in an understanding of the blessings received from Providence; that is, gratitude is related to knowledge. Appreciation requires a sense of my own dependence—I cannot provide for myself—I am in need of assistance that is beyond me. I cannot even guarantee my next breath. Not only must I comprehend my contingency, but I must increase in my comprehension of the Source of my help. My help is from my Father. And as a child I receive and receive and receive, “grace for grace” (Jo. 1:16). Because of Who the Father is and because of what the Father does I am grateful.

Providence guides the believer to submit to God, who is both the Creator and Provider. To struggle with Sovereignty is actually to struggle with submission; and, in one sense, the struggle is an ambiguity because man is refusing to bow before the One who gave him existence and who maintains that existence, keeping the individual literally from disappearing into nothingness. Submitting to God should be a given, but man stubbornly refuses to do that which seems so self-evident in light of who God is and what God does for man. Submission does not come without a struggle, but Providence is continually at work even in the struggle.

And in the struggle there is no hope for the believer in his contention with the Lord. It is an argument in which man cannot and will not experience victory. God does not give account of Himself, for His deeds are His deeds. This is the lesson learned from the story of Job—man must accept the doings of God. Insight into the concept of Providence guides man to the conclusion that struggle against God is not the proper option; only in submission will man find peace, a peace that is apart from man and is from above man, and a peace that does not require understanding by man. The just one lives by faith.

Providence compels the believer to worship the One who is Sovereign. You cannot believe in the Sovereign God and not worship the One who is Sovereign. It is not only illogical, but it is impossible to confess Him as Lord and not bow before Him as Lord of Lords, to confess Him as King and not bow before Him as King of Kings.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before YHWH our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture (Ps. 95:6-7);

Exalt YHWH our God, and worship at His footstool—He is holy (Ps. 99:5);

Exalt YHWH our God, and worship at His holy hill (Ps. 99:9);

Let us go into His tabernacle; let us worship at His footstool (Ps. 132:7).

Worship is spontaneous; it emerges from the soul of the individual who has come to know the one true God, the One who is Lord over all. Providence compels the believer to realize that the proper response and place is worship at “His footstool.”

Providence causes one to wonder at the mystery of God and wait. Questions in the form of “Why?” abound: why did God incorporate evil into His plan; why is there such an enormous cosmos; why is damnation eternal, with no hope of relief; what is the relationship of mind/soul/thinking to the organ we call the brain; why would God allow the cloning of humans; do all infants and idiots go to heaven; if the universe is expanding is there an end to the universe? Many such questions are unanswered, and man is without resolution to the perplexing aspects of his existence that continually trouble his mind.

If they were answered, man may not be endowed with the capacity to comprehend the Divine answers that would be given. To be able to ask questions that we know have no human answers is to be constantly reminded that we are human, and this is a limitation consistent with finiteness that frustrates reflection. We do not know it all and can never know it all. Now we see dimly, and at times do not see at all; but then, when we no longer see faintly or know in part, the workings of Providence will be understood. Until then there is mystery and we wait.

The providences of God are sometimes dark, and our eyes dim, and we can hardly tell what to make of them; but when we cannot unriddle providence, let us believe that it will work together for the good of the elect (Thomas Boston, A Body of Divinity, 125).


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