2004-11-29 - The Providence of God
Psalm 103:1, "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name."
I am not sure how to start, but I am going to start by making an observation. I don't know if any of you have family devotions, but it used to be common among Christian families in the past. At dinner, or in the evening, the family would gather and read a passage of Scripture, and the husband would explain the passage to the family. It was something almost every Christian family did. However, I don't think that many practice this today, but I do know that many in my church do. However, no one in my church is the target of this paragraph, because none of them even know I write these devos. My point is simple. The most influential commentary on the Bible, in the history of the Church, was written by Matthew Henry. I learned recently that what he put into that commentary was largely based on the notes that he took as a child from his family devotions.
Family devotions are worth thinking about. I am (I hope) about to start teaching at a local university, and my first class will be, Marriage and Sexuality. It is in the Theology department. I have to deal with various faiths in this class and be sensitive, but I intend to emphasize the need of parents to pray with children. We must pray with them and set a good example for them. Praying with them also sets us up for what kind of conduct we can live ourselves. We can't appeal to the Creator without making sure our conduct is in line.
But, because of the above, my much-shortened devo is on the providence of God. I want to try to deal with those who feel that the providence of God is adverse to them. I would like you to think about some simple things. The farmer is sleeping, but the crops are growing. Providence never stops. Xerxes made chains for the Hellespost and went out and lashed the sea with chains to hold it back, but the sea still came in and washed away his boats. The sea cared little about his lashing it with chains. It is God's sea. Canute put a chair on the beach and told the tide to hold back. What did the tide care? It came in. The sea is not controlled by us, and likewise the providence of God is governed by nothing but God. Providence, like the sea, can't be controlled by man. It is in the hands of God.
There are many reasons why we may not know "why is this so?" We may not know the answer until we get to Heaven. Have you ever seen in Scripture that an Angel said to God, "Why?" No, you have not; they simply do His bidding, and there is something to learn there. They know more about God than we do, and they obey and serve Him. They don't question His direction in things they might wonder about. God is faithful. He cannot change. If He did change, He would have to change from worse to better, and then He would not have been perfect. If He could change from better to worse, then, again, He would not be God, because then He would not be perfect.
The practical observation is that we must place our trust in God. It is here stated as a bold-faced truth, but what more can be said? It is that simple. God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible, and we must either trust Him, or trust ourselves and the bottom line, and I will only speak for myself, but I bet I represent lots of others: When we try to do it ourselves, we all too often let ourselves down. Our trust must be in God. His providence, good or bad (in our view), must be where we rest. Remember, the stoic deals with struggles in this life because he/she believes it can be handled/overcome. The Christian deals with struggles because he/she knows it is working for their good. That is God's providence. It works for our good.