Providence, Who Cares?

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Devotional Word for Friday, November 6, 2020

When I was a kid, I used to watch G.I. Joe cartoons.  As an adult I watched one and was astounded by how much time is spent recapping the previous episode or advertising for the next.  One of the catch phrases I remember from my childhood was from Sergeant Slaughter.  He said, “Knowing is half the battle.” Clearly, he thought it was important to know as much as possible as you begin to face life’s challenges.  These past few devotions we have looked at the biblical idea of providence.  This is the understanding that God is actively governing all of creation which includes both the wonderful times and the woeful times.  As we think about the providential care of God, we might wonder if Sergeant Slaughter’s words were correct.  Rather, we might wonder if there are helpful.  Does it matter that we know that God is providentially in control?

Heidelberg Catechism Question 28 asks, “What advantage comes from acknowledging God’s creation and providence?”  The answer is, “We learn that we are to be patient in adversity, grateful in the midst of blessing, and to trust our faithful God and Father for the future, assured that no creature shall separate us from His love, since all creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot even move.”

As we think about this answer, one thing seems obvious.  When we understand that God is providentially governing all things, it helps us be grateful in the midst of blessing.  When our lives are blessed in a particular way, knowing that God is in control makes us grateful.  What about when there is difficulty?  The catechism says that when we understand that God is in control it allows us to be patient in adversity.  Here is why.  When we are in the midst of difficult circumstances and we me might be tempted to think that God is not for us, we can remember the Lord Jesus.  That does not just mean that I close my eyes and call on Jesus’ name three times and all my problems go away.  Instead, I remember what Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, suffered on my behalf.  Look with me at Isaiah 53:3-6 for just a small sample of Christ’s work.  Here Isaiah is looking forward under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and is describing the work of Jesus.  The affliction He has born on our behalf is awful, but Jesus, out of a great love for His people, endured it.  The God who went through the trouble of redeeming His people through the person and work of the Lord Jesus, is not going to abandon those that He has redeemed.  We can be assured then that our difficult circumstances are part of God’s working all things together for our good.  We then can be patient and say, “Lord, this isn’t the most pleasant experience, but I love you, trust you, and know that it is only for a season.”  

The apostle Paul put things in a slightly different way.  He wrote, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”  Paul knew full well that momentary light affliction might last us all the days of our lives and that it almost never seems light or momentary.  Yet, he still wrote these words in view of an eternity spent with the King.  As we think of the providential care of God, let us be grateful in times of abundant blessing and be patient in times of suffering.  We know that Christ, by His life, death, and resurrection, has already secured our victory.  Whether it is in 10 hours, 10 years, or 10 decades we will be at home in peace with a Savior and Lord.  As we come to know and trust that reality, we will likely find that knowledge isn’t half the battle; it’s all of it.  Let us pray.