It doesn’t take a genius to see that our country is in a time of great turmoil. I’m nearly 70 years old and although I’ve walked through stormy times, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like the last 6 months and especially the last couple weeks.
In any case, I thought it would be a good time to remind myself (and you?) about God’s providence…a comforting doctrine in times of great uncertainty and fear.
My favorite definition of “providence” is from the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), questions 27-28. Let me encourage you to read them over and let their truths seep deeply into your souls and bring you comfort.
Q 27: What do you understand by the providence of God?
God’s providence is his almighty and ever present power whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures and so governs them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.
Did you get that? The men who crafted this confession weren’t living in cushie-ville, untouched by deep adversity. The political climate of their day was anything but stable and they knew they could find themselves alternately welcomed or banished at any time. But this is what they believed: Everything comes to us by God’s fatherly hand. No matter what comes, or where it seems like it comes from, it’s ultimately from His hand. Considering how powerful that hand is, we might be terrified.
But that’s where the truth that his hand is also a loving fatherly hand comforts us.
How do we know? We know because His fatherly hand is a hand that has known suffering. Remember, “for God so loved that He gave…?” He knows what it is to suffer. And he’s right there with his children in our times of trial.
Here’s their next question and answer:
Q 28: What does it benefit us to know that God has created all things and still upholds them by his providence?
We can be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and with a view to the future, we can have a firm confidence in our faithful God and Father that no creature shall separate us from his love and that all creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they cannot so much as move.
Notice the verbs in their answer: patient, thankful, confident. How can that happen? It can only happen when we believe that “all creatures” are in his hand and that He’s a faithful God who is also our loving Father.