At some point in life, most of us will get to a place where we simply cannot make sense of life’s circumstances. Everything around us can feel like chaos! Whether it is a major tragedy that came suddenly or a series of closed doors that forces a change in the direction, we will need to respond. For some, the response will be despair. For others it will be a place of rest, knowing that we serve a God who controls all things for his own good purpose. While the world looks to karma, luck, and self-effort, the believer should put their hope in God’s sovereignty and Providence.
Providence. Divine Providence is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. The doctrine of divine Providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. He is sovereign over the universe as a whole (Ps. 103:19), the physical world (Matt. 5:45), the affairs of nations (Ps. 66:7), human destiny (Gal. 1:15), human successes and failures (Luke 1:52), and the protection of His people (Ps. 4:8). This doctrine stands in direct opposition to the world’s idea that the universe is governed by chance or fate.
This biblical truth can be hard to see, let alone accept, but this is precisely why we are called to walk by faith and not by sight. And friends, it is not necessary that we “see” in order to trust. This is why it is called faith. Faith is one of the things that makes us distinct from the world. This distinction gives us an opportunity to make our faith visible, not only to be seen by the world but to be a living demonstration to the world.
God’s Word says a lot about Providence, but few passages are more powerful than the story of Joseph. My goodness! His jealous brothers contemplated murder but sold him into slavery instead! Over a decade later, God’s plan was revealed, and the lives of the brothers who intended him harm were in Joseph’s hands. How did Joseph respond? Providence!
He said in Genesis 45:5–8,
"And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt."
His response is astounding, and it would be unbelievable apart from us knowing God is notorious for providentially using sin and its related tragedies for His glory. I know that many of us have baffling and hard circumstances in our lives, and we struggle to see how a good God is at work, and that’s fair . . . considering we are finite and sinful. But, let me offer a few encouragements to help us.
How to Build Faith in God’s Providence
- Go straight to the Bible.
When doubt or despair threatens to strike, get on the offensive and open up your Bible! One of many helpful verses is Romans 8:28, which reminds us that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. All things, my friends! This is a tremendous promise.
- Look back.
Another way to help you cling to what the Bible promises is filtering it through your own experience. Few things are more powerful than God’s Word intersecting with your own personal life. When that happens—can’t nobody make you doubt Him! We have to remember the last time (even a small circumstance) we could not see the Lord operating but could trace His hand when it was all said and done. We respond by bowing to our knees in repentance for our unbelief or in praise for his faithfulness!
- Use the Body of Christ.
No matter how strong our faith is, we are simply unable to encourage ourselves all the time—which is why the Bible continually says for us (the family of God) to encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 10:24; 1 Cor. 14:26). It is vital for us to allow the saints to lift our heads from our circumstances and on to the One who controls those circumstances. Whether you are a new believer or simply weary, you can be deeply encouraged by the testimony of someone else. Other Christians can often see what we cannot see. Some have gone before us in experiencing God’s providential and loving work in their own lives, and they can comfort us with the comfort they received.
When Providence Changed My Own Plans
A short piece from my own life: I moved in to my mother’s house in late 2012. I did not want her to live alone in such a large house, and I was pursuing a legal studies degree, so the idea was sensible. I had a plan for my life—so I thought.
Less than a year later, I lost my job at the large corporate law firm where I had worked for six years. It seemed to be at the worst time, but as I looked at the timing and the circumstances surrounding it all, I knew enough to say that God was involved.
Just a few months later, my mother’s dementia came to the forefront, and I began to care for her, watching the slow and steady decline of her health. As her health declined, her need for care rapidly increased. Having a job would not have been possible at that time. Providence.
After having been her sole and primary caretaker for four years, I was forced to move her to a personal care home with professionals equipped to handle the level of care she needed. I hated moving her! But unknown to me, two months later my father would have a major stroke and need my immediate care. Providence.
Beloved, either now or for sure in the future, all of us will need to hold firm to the fact that our God is never caught off guard; nothing surprises him. He is not scrambling to find solutions nor is he struggling to see how it will all work out. No, he is the Alpha and the Omega, knowing the beginning from the end—and controlling everything in-between! And here’s the astounding part: he is doing it without removing our free will. Free will and a sovereign God acting providentially?! Yes! Our God is awesome! In fact, He is the only One who is awesome!
Loved ones, if we know this—I mean really know and believe this—despite the way things unfold, we really should have a deep down confidence and peace. Peace that surpasses understanding. Do you have this kind of confidence today? What is hindering you from anchoring yourself to what God has promised you? Whatever it is, God already knows it. and if you would turn to Him and say, “I believe, help my unbelief,” He is faithful and just and will help you do what He has called you to do—which is to trust Him! May you be fully persuaded!