The word “providence” comes from Latin “pro” (ahead) and “videre” (to see). Literally, to see ahead or to have knowledge of the future.
According to Martin Luther, Divine Providence began when God created the world and everything needed for human life including physical things and natural law. Luther, as do all Christians, believed that God had a plan for the world, and every soul is guided by His will, or providence.
Lately, I can’t escape the idea of God’s providence. Our Trinity women completed a Beth Moore study of Esther where the focus is on God’s providence. Mordecai wondered if God placed Esther in her position specifically to do His will at a critical time in the life of the Jews. Jacque and I recently visited the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois. One of the recurring themes in the documents and displays is that Lincoln was called by God to do a specific thing — preserve the Union — at a critical time in our country’s history.
The phrase we kept hearing and reading was “Divine Providence.” After absorbing Lincoln’s life story you can come to no other conclusion than that God groomed and used Abraham Lincoln for a special purpose at a specific, critical time in U.S. history.
God has a plan for you and for me and everything that happens — both good and bad — are part of God’s plan for us. Nothing is accidental. God had a plan for Esther. God had a plan for Lincoln. God has a plan for you and for me.
What does God Himself say about this idea? Over and over in Scripture, God makes outrageous claims. He says if we turn our face to Him and trust Him, He’ll actually take care of us. Imagine! How insane and outrageous is that? We all know it’s a dog-eat-dog world and we’ve got to take care of ourselves… because no one else will. We all know everything is dependent on us. And yet God says He can and will take care of us.
William Temple, an Archbishop of Canterbury, and Anglican scholar, once said that Christianity is the most materialistic of all religions. He said that God spent five whole days inventing “stuff” for you and me to enjoy. The earth, the oceans, the moon and stars, animals and birds, gold and silver, trees… you get the picture. God loves you and me so much that He wants us to be happy and He’s given us riches beyond our ability to comprehend.
So what are we to do with this? I think each of us needs to come to grips and believe two critical things.
God loves us. Look at all He’s given us.
He wants to give to us. He wants us to enjoy His creation. More importantly, He wants to be with us forever. That’s why Jesus came to die on a Cross. He’s extended the invitation to every man, woman, and child on this earth to share in this glorious gift and have life eternal.
The problem, of course, is many have and many will reject this free gift. The solution is one of the themes of the Gospel and of the Reformation. It’s repentance. Repentance means turning our backs on our sins, our bad behaviors, and ask God for forgiveness. Jesus said that we’re “to go into all the world teaching people to repent...”
God’s Providence is a wonderful blessing. We know that He loves us and will provide what we need. All He asks of us is to seek His Kingdom and to do His will. That’s why we should include in each of our prayers the words “Thy will be done.”