ways of providence
“Let business and other things be attended to in their proper measure; but the Bible ought never to be displaced from the supreme position. It ought to have an inalienable place in the day’s programme. Constantly read and devoutly pondered, it will, in course of time, emancipate a man from the dreamy state of misconception which thinks the incidents of providence all very proper in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; but not to be looked for in the humdrum days of machinery and manufacturing districts”. (Robert Roberts)
- Do we believe that God overrules all things?
- Do we believe that the angel of the Lord encamps around those that fear Him?
- Do we believe that God did overrule the lives of the faithful in the past?
Of course we do! If so, then surely we must also accept that in our day-to-day lives the hand of God is present. Time and chance happen to all men and the faithful are no exception to this rule. However the hand of our Creator directs the overall direction of the lives of the faithful for their ultimate good.
What great comfort this thought affords! What hope! What encouragement! Whatever the difficulty, whatever the trial, the Lord our God is fully aware of it. Does this mean we will find that life is smooth? No, of course not, indeed maybe just the opposite will be true. Providence does not negate free choice and we so very often reap the results of our own mistakes. Indeed Paul writes:
“because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son” … “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” (Heb 12:6,10)
In all the trials and difficulties of life, when the way is rough and thing just do not seem to go right, God is there. He knows our limitations, He knows our needs and He will correct us if we but heed the lessons of life. As a master craftsman God knows exactly what is needed to mould our characters and form us into vessels fit to share in His holiness. What a wonderful awe inspiring thought! We who are but dust being made fit to share in the holiness of our Creator, to be part of that great living temple!
Even in death we need have no fear, for the hand of God is there, as Isaiah writes:
“The righteous perish, and no-one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no-one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” Isa 57 1-2
So do we trust in our Creator implicitly? Do we willingly respond to His chastening hand? How do we show within our daily lives that we do trust in Yahweh? How often do we pray about the big things in life, yet neglect the things we perceived as being small. If we depart on a long journey maybe we pray that it will be safe and that we shall return home again in safety. But what about when we just go down the road to the local shops, or to work, is not our need just as great?
It is not in the one off major events when our need is dire or worry greater, that true faith is displayed. Surely at such times when our weakness and need is greatest, we do turn to God. But the depth of our faith and trust is displayed by the day-to-day living out of our lives in patient trust and appreciation of the abiding presence of the overruling hand of God. David wrote:
“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psa 139:2-6)
Yes, the knowledge that wherever we are, whatever we do, whatever the circumstance God is there, is to lofty for us to fully comprehend. Indeed David continues v7 “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Were we to go the greatest height, or the greatest depth, the furthest reaches of the universe, He is there! Surely our Creator is far above us, yet He has such great compassion and mercy towards those who are contrite and trust in Him. We read:
“For this is what the high and lofty One says—he who lives for ever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite”. (Isa 57:15)
What are we really, that God should take any note of us? Yet His providential hand provides, day by day, all that is needful. So with this in mind, with David we say with the utmost confidence:
“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”… “How priceless is your unfailing love!” Psa 9:10; Psa 36:7