The providence of God matters today. Providence is defined as “the protective care and guidance of God.” Providence encompasses God’s sovereignty to continually uphold, guide, and care for his creation (Dan. 4:35; Prov. 16:33; Rom 8:28).
His intimate involvement in creation expresses this notion of being a relational God. Philippians 4:19 states this well: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Furthermore, God’s providence matters because all events people experience in life have a purpose. Nothing happens by chance, but is all orchestrated by God—who works “all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11).”
Therefore, whatever accomplishment or hardship humans encounter, it doesn’t come as a surprise to Almighty God.
This brings up a couple of crucial questions. First, if God is in complete control of creation, then do humans have free will? Second, if God permits both goodness and suffering, then why doesn’t he mitigate suffering? These are excellent questions and are the most common objections for the existence of God.
Let’s answer the first question—beginning in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were both created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26-27). They were given a clear choice by God when he told them: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (Gen. 2:16-17).”
God didn’t coerce them to eat or not eat of this tree. The Lord treated them like autonomous creatures capable of making an informed decision. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan and chose to rebel against God instead of heeding to the instructions of Yahweh.
This is why James 1:13 reminds us that we are ultimately responsible for our decisions: “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”
Consequently, we can’t blame God for the decisions we make in life. Whether good or bad, God has given us the ability to make rational choices.
At this point, you might agree with freedom of the will as it relates to decision-making. However, what if a person is predisposed to a genetic disease they have no control over? How about natural disasters? Isn’t God ultimately responsible for these factors?
This is where God’s providence comes into play. While we do have free choices, there are limitations. These include genetic factors, familial status, environment, etc. An important verse to keep in mind when wrestling with these issues comes from Romans 8:28:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Have you heard of Nick Vujicic? He was born with Tetra-amelia syndrome—a condition where all four limbs are missing, caused by the mutations in the WNT3 gene. In 2005, he started a non-profit international organization and ministry entitled Life Without Limbs. Since then, He has reached millions of people for the gospel.
He once said in a YouTube video that God’s purpose may have been for him to be born without arms and legs so that he could encourage and reach out to people just like him.
He has embraced Romans 8:28, knowing that God works all things together for good—especially those who are born with genetic limitations. What is amazing about this story is how Nick has used his limitations to show others how to be positive in the midst of suffering.
Since we are on the topic of suffering, let’s discuss the second question: If God is all-loving and all-powerful, why doesn’t he mitigate suffering? Wouldn’t a world of no suffering be more valuable than a world with pain and agony?
Truth be told, there is no easy answer to this question. Every day, we are inundated with news of wars, natural disasters, bullying, and deadly diseases. I am sure you have your own story of pain and suffering. Doesn’t it seem like a good God would step into our existence and rescue us from these calamities?
God has. He sent His Son—Jesus Christ—to die on our behalf. The Bible says, “He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might receive the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).” Even the incarnate God experienced suffering and is able to empathize with our suffering. Hebrews 4:15 states:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin (Heb. 4:15).”
As Christians, we have a high priest, Jesus, who can relate to our human suffering. God the Father also sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts for healing, encouragement, and strength (Jn. 14:26; 2 Cor. 3:17). For God the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit are there to bring peace and restoration to our weary souls (Matt: 28:19; 1 Pet. 1:2).
Moreover, we don’t always see the full picture. While suffering is real and unavoidable, God has a purpose for permitting it to exist in this world. I think about the story of Joseph. His own jealous brothers kidnapped him, sold him into slavery, and then lied to their father for years.
This was a wicked act and God was displeased with how they treated Joseph. Nevertheless, their sin worked toward a greater good. Because of this situation, Joseph ended up in Egypt and became the prime minister. He used his power and influence to rescue the Israelites and his family from a terrible seven-year famine.
If Joseph had not been sold into slavery, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to reveal to Pharaoh his incredible ability to interpret dreams and impart wisdom. By God providentially allowing his brothers the freedom to sin, the entire Israelite people were spared from the famine and Joseph became a beacon of light to the pagan nations. That’s why Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50:20:
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today (Gen. 50:20).”
Therefore, this example can give hope to anyone who is in a period of suffering. While suffering is unpleasant—and at times— unbearable, God will help you endure through any type of hardship. Then, as you look back upon your experiences, you will see that God had a greater good for the trials you were once experiencing.
The Apostle Paul experienced much suffering. He once said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18).” This comes from an apostle who was shipwrecked, imprisoned multiple times, beaten with rods, pelted with stones, and gone without sleep and food. Paul knew what it was like to suffer, and yet he was able to have a positive attitude through it all.
In conclusion, God’s providence matters. It matters because it personally affects all of us. Also, if God is not in control, then He is not sovereign. If the Lord is not sovereign, then He is not a God who is able to sustain and uphold the universe.
Without God, life would be chaotic. Blind chance would make our suffering impersonal. Free will would be illusory. Our choices would be determined. For every event would be a result of prior causes without supernatural intervention.Tweet
Thankfully, this is not the case. There is a God who is personal and providential. There is a Creator who is good, sovereign, and in control of the universe. Even though suffering is real and life can be chaotic, it is temporary.
There is coming a future day when the judge of all the earth will restore the world back to it’s proper condition. He will create a new heaven and a new earth. Let me end with this hopeful verse from Revelation 7:17:
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Rev. 7:17).”
Article written by Chad A. Damitz (M.Div)