Providence is God’s governance, care and control of the universe because he is Almighty God and Creator. God’s providence existed before the cross and the empty tomb and it moved events, people and history towards that turning point when Jesus died and rose again to defeat sin, death and the devil. Providence had always worked for the growth and the good of God’s elect, the vast family of God. It will continue to do so till the end of this age is consummated through the return of Christ to the earth to establish an eternal kingdom. For us believers, this providence that is focused on our good is one of God’s many blessings bestowed on his much beloved children.
Providence is God’s care and control of the universe, of history and of nations, of the church and its individual believers. It is his will and power to cause things to gravitate towards the end he intended. By involving himself in human history through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God gave us an excellent model of his providential and redemptive love for humanity.
The oft-quoted verse in Romans 8:28 refers to God’s providence. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” The “all things” is God’s ability to control all things in the universe and to cause all things to work for his good purpose for “those who love God”, that is, his children. This gives us great assurance and comfort about the past, the present and the future. We do not have to worry. Whatever happens to us, whether good or evil, all we need to do is to trust in his providential and redemptive love. He will cause all things to work for his good purposes.
Even in the face of seeming betrayal, suffering and abandonment, Joseph of the Old Testament, found God’s faithful providence in action in his life. Out of jealousy his brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt and virtually destroyed his life. However, God’s care and governance over the circumstances of his life, propelled him to the office of Prime Minister of Egypt, second in authority only to the Pharaoh. His long trial and experience of God’s intervention and control of events led him to say to his brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen 50:20). This is God’s providence towards those he chose to covenant with.
Philip the evangelist experienced God’s providence when the Spirit transported him supernaturally to the desert road to catch sight of the Ethiopian eunuch, who while on his way back to Ethiopia, he happened to be reading a scroll of Isaiah’s prophecies, precisely when Philip approached his chariot. He explained to the eunuch the prophecy the eunuch could not understand, and he preached the good news about Jesus to him. The eunuch confessed his faith in Christ and was baptised in water. Tradition has it that he spread the gospel when he returned to his homeland.
God’s providence is often confused with God’s provision. God’s provision is God’s supply of our needs – material and spiritual. Apostle Paul confidently declared that God would supply all the needs of the church in Philippi according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phi 4:19). To the church in Corinth, he wrote: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” and “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor 9:8,11). God’s provision is one of the many ways we experience God’s providence but it is “technically” distinguishable from it.
What does providence look like today? That job vacancy that opened up right after you quit your job and the interviewer was somebody who was impressed with your integrity in his past work dealings with you. You bumped into an old friend who was as keen and passionate in starting a similar business that you have been praying about. That unplanned meeting with an uncle who shared with you a verse that resolved an issue that deeply troubled you in prayer. “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives” (Ps 37:23 NLT).
This is part of a planned series of writings on the topic, “The A to Z of Christ’s Finished Work”. I am writing it alphabet by alphabet. Thus far the others that I have written can be found HERE.