What is the providence of God?
We hear people say things like, “By the providence of God, she lost control of her car and missed that pine tree by inches.” But you rarely hear people say, “By the providence of God, she lost control of her car and hit that pine tree dead on.” Why is this so? Isn’t God in as much control in the second situation as in the first?
Yes, He is. But, we respond this way because we incorrectly define providence as “Christian luck.”
God’s providence is not Christian luck. God’s providence is how God uses every event – both the good and the bad – to accomplish his purposes.
So, we see the providence of God in EVERY event.
Sometimes, we Christians think we need to protect God. (Like we could.) We think we shouldn’t attribute the atrocities of life to God, and try to find another answer. We say things like, “God did not do this Satan did.” We blame our difficulties on the economy, sickness, other people, national leaders, nature and a host of other things. But, nothing can happen apart from what God permits, and God only permits according to His providence.
This is a truth that Naomi knew well. Her story is found in the book of Ruth. She and her family had moved to Moab (land of pagans) to escape the famine that was ravaging the Promised Land. While there, Naomi’s husband died. Then, her two sons died. She was left alone with her two Moabite daughter-in-laws, and a foreign land. Can you imagine? Naomi experienced tragedy upon tragedy.
- Famine – With the famine she probably experience hunger and the stress of not being able to feed her family.
- Move – She moved with her family to a foreign land, away from the Promised Land and to a land of pagans. She was away from her land, her family, and everything familiar.
- Sons Marrying Moabite Women– This would have been a travesty to devout Hebrew parents.
- Death of Her Husband – The death of a husband in Naomi’s culture was far more tragic than it is even today. She would have been left with very little, and would have to rely on her sons to care for and provide for her.
- Death of two sons – Naomi was now without a husband and living children. She had no one to provide for her, she would have been akin to a homeless person in today’s society.
Think of all she went through. I cannot begin to imagine. But, what she says after she returns to the Promised Land demonstrates that she understood the Providence of God. She says, "I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty." She did not say, "I ran into some bad luck," or "Everything went downhill because of the economy," or it was just a "natural disaster." She did not ask God why this had happened to her. She simply said the Lord had done this. It appears that she faithfully and humbly trusted that He had some purpose for it, and she did not demand He explain that purpose to her. She trusted His providence.
Many times when we find ourselves in a painful or difficult situation, we quit talking about the providence of God. We only talk about things being providential when they have the outcome we want. Let’s not be so self-centered; God is providential in all things. Nothing happens apart from what God wills/allows. God will use every event to accomplish his purposes. He will use all things to bring glory to Himself. That’s providence.
So, whenever famine, disappointment, death or any other tragedy befalls you, cling to this: God has a purpose for it. His purpose is not centered around you, but on His will. If you are there now, God doesn’t promise you things will get better in this life, in fact, they may get worse. However, He does promise that He is in control and His purposes will be accomplished.
There is no such thing as “Christian luck.” There is only the providence of God.