The Providence of God

The providence of God is directly related to the sovereignty that only He holds. In His sovereignty, God plans and ordains the events of the past, present, and future to achieve His desires. As such, it is God’s providence that His creation is provided “overseeing care and guardianship.”[1] Without the Lord’s divine provision, life is not possible.

Providence

Providence covers a wide range of actions of God, lending to a definition that can be hard to comprehend fully. At the root of meaning, it is simply God’s provision for the needs of His creation, especially that of humanity and the faithful.[2] God’s providence is so complex that it is difficult for the human mind to comprehend all the ways in which God acts to provide for His creation’s needs.

Maintaining Creation

It is by God’s work that creation exists; He is the only one that existed before creation, and it is by Him that all came into being. It is by the “breath of God” that life is breathed into creation, and without it, life ceases.[3] Life itself is not the default in existence, but it is instead a sovereign choice by God. Gratitude is owed to the one that makes life possible, for He deserves all the glory for such a miracle. By God’s providence, life is sustained, further glorifying Himself in the continued miracle.[4]

Provision

If one is alive, then they have requisites to survive. Humans require many things to be sustained, such as air to breathe, food to eat, and water to remain hydrated. There are many other things that have varying importance, like shelter, clothing, and even social contact with others. In God’s creation of the world and the lives that inhabit them, He made all things with needs in order to continue existing. Just as a child depends on their parents for needs to be met, we depend on God the Father, for our needs. God the Father knows even better what our needs are, so we may trust in Him that they will be met.[5]

Suffering

For many people, the question of suffering existing appears to conflict with the providence of God. If God is good, then why and how does suffering exist? It was by the sin of humanity that suffering entered this world, but all suffering is not negative or a punishment. It is by suffering that righteousness is sometimes developed in humanity.[6] Such suffering refines the character of the faithful as gold is refined.[7] Suffering can be used to deepen the obedience of the person, so that they may grow in their character and endurance to do the will of God.[8]

Concluding Remarks

So many times in life, humanity endures hardships that lead to suffering and anxieties. There are natural calamities, social frictions, and needs for life that must be met. In all, when such suffering enters a person’s life, emotional distress can cause the person to become anxious and depressed. In some, their distress even manifests as anger or destructive behavior toward others.

In ministry, as to glorify God and help others, the world must be pointed to the salvation and forgiveness that is found in Jesus Christ. The world must understand that God will provide, but sometimes, what is thought to be needed is not truly what is needed at that time. Instead, hardship may be needed to evoke a greater blessing that is to come. It is incomprehensible to many how suffering can be used to bring about greater blessings, but all of God’s decisions are by definition “good.” It is human understanding that fails to understand how such things actually achieve the greater good. Despite the shortcomings of the human intellect, we must hold fast to the things that are good, that is, God, and forsake our weaknesses. Continue to point everybody toward God, for one day, suffering will be eradicated.


[1] J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 1996), 117.

[2] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Providence,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1791.

[3] Graham A Cole, “He who Gives Life:  The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit,” (Crossway, 2007), 2241, Kindle Edition.

[4] Williams, 118.

[5] Williams, 120.

[6] Williams, 132.

[7] Williams, 134.

[8] Ibid.

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Gordon Bland

I am a seminary student working toward my M.Div. While I grew up Pentecostal, within my first semester of seminary, I came to a different understanding of the Word and theology. I am now Reformed Baptist. #1689 I love teaching others about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, for it was Christ that transformed me. For a number of years, I was a militant atheist and substance abuser. If God can change me, I know he can do the same for you! I am but a wretch, yet He still chose to give me grace. He truly is amazing and deserves all our praise!

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