Ever think about that verse in Psalms 23 that speak of God's rod and staff comforting us? I wonder if the rod and staff can be somewhat representative of providence and sovereignty? Ann and I were talking yesterday and I found myself saying something like this: "I think that I believe more in the providence of God than in the sovereignty of God."
I want to unpack that thought in this post and maybe reflect a bit on how those two big words relate to my life. Firstly I have to say that I believe in both terms as described here:
Providence: the foreseeing care and guidance of God over His creation.I think that these terms sometimes get us in trouble when we read too much into them. For example - we can error if we believe that because God is sovereign He wills bad things to happen us. We can also mistakenly take His providential care for granted thinking that our actions are not important because He can use bad stuff as well as good.
Sovereignty: God's absolute right and ability to do all things according to his will.
Getting back to my thinking about these words.. when I think of them two passages of scripture comes to mind. The first is Satan's interaction with God in the first two chapters of Job - here we see that God allows bad things to happen to one of His followers.. in this we see that nothing happens apart from God's permissive will.. because He is sovereign even Satan has to ask permission to do bad things.. it is a comforting thought but not too comforting when you understand that all of Job's children died.
When I think about Providence my mind wanders to the eighth chapter of Romans and the verse that is at the heart of what is means to believe in the providential nature of the Lord:
We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.Life happens.. bad things happens.. look at Job.. nevertheless God is at work in our situations.. even using the bad stuff to accomplish His purposes. I find comfort in that verse.. I find comfort in God's providence. I also find comfort that Satan has to ask God for permission to attack me - but not that much.. I'd rather that God prevented instead of permitted Satan's actions.. I am a wimp like that. :)
Another verse that strengthens me and kind of ties these two words together is found in the tenth chapter of First Corinthians:
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.I like this verse.. the ornery side of me says that people who do not have difficulties must be weak people that cannot stand up under temptation.. but the gracious part of me understands that God's providence and sovereignty is a package deal. His providence helps us when His sovereignty allows bad stuff to happen to us.
I still like His Providence more though.. it comforts and blesses me to know that He is there during the difficult times that His sovereignty permits.
Another blast from the past - first posted in March 2010.