Theologian Erickson defines God’s providence as “… the continuing action of God by which He preserves in existence the creation He has brought into being, and guides it to His intended purposes for it.” Providence involves both preservation and government. By preservation we understand God’s maintaining of His creation in both protection against harm and provision for the needs of the whole creation. God’s governing of the universe involves His work in it so that all the events in the universe work toward the fulfilment of His plan for it (Eph. 1:3-10).
As I reflected on His providence, I could see God not only as the Almighty Creator but also as the One who is personally involved with His creation. Scriptures is full of examples of God’s preservation of His people Israel, and also His care and protection over individuals such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel and his three friends etc. If God had kept and provided for them, He would also do the same for you and me. I am sure each one of us could recall God’s providential care in our lives. No wonder, the Psalmist challenges us to remember and to thank God for the great things He has done for us. “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble …” (Ps.107:1-3).
As we understand His government of the world better, we will learn to trust God more implicitly with our whole life (Rom. 8:28, 28; 1Pet. 1:3-9; Heb. 12: 4-13). God is good and He works for the good, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly to bring about His purposes. This reminds me of the way God worked in Miss Esther Mok’s life. She was Singapore’s first SARS patient. A short stay in one of Hong Kong’s hotel ten years ago turned out to be a devastating nightmare that brought out the best from our nation’s health and medical workers. Some doctors and nurses literally gave their lives to fight SARS. To her all these tragedies were as inexplicable as a child trying to figure out how to operate a spaceship into the starry world. Her faith in God was shattered. She stopped attending church being filled with bitterness and burdened with guilt and despair. It was an overseas trip to the Philippines that brought her out of the dismal darkness into the light. She happened to read a brochure with the words: “For God to explain a trial would be to destroy its purpose, calling forth simple faith and implicit obedience.” She made her peace with God and started on the road to recovery. Today she is serving God faithfully. From asking, “why me?” she now believes that God has prepared something far greater than she could ever dream of.
This doctrine of divine providence could become our bedrock of faith if we learn to see all things in God’s perspective especially in His purposeful directing of the whole of reality and the course of history to His ends. We should have no regrets since the day we trusted Him as we see His unseen hand, leading, guiding and protecting us till all His perfect and good purposes are worked out in our lives. What a God we have! Let us give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His lovingkindness endures forever.
Rev. Mark Tay