“Believing in Providence”
“My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.”
In last week’s article we established the fact that we are not locked in the grasp of a cruel, unchanging fate nor are we ships tossed about on a sea of chance. Rather we are servants willfully submitting to the sovereign reign of God who, by His providence, controls all things according to His will. What are the practical implications of living in God’s “hand”?
(1) Prosperity should never be the occasion for pride.
Just because God grants us freewill to choose does not make us the source of blessing. The farmer must do his work in preparing the soil and wisely planting at the right time but he is utterly powerless to make the sun shine or the rain fall (Mt. 5:45; Acts 14:17; Jas. 5:7).
Likewise, if we are financially successful we must thank God who gives us the ability to get wealth. “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” (Deut. 8:17-18)
If we are at peace with our enemies we must thank God for teaching us the way of reconciliation (Prov. 16:7). If we are forgiven we must thank God for His grace and mercy (Eph. 2:8-9). As Israel’s rescue from Egyptian bondage was not due to Moses’ leadership abilities or Pharaoh’s cowardice but of God’s power and love, so is our rescue from sin (Ex. 3:7-9).
(2) Uncertainty should never be the occasion for panic.
God knows how prone we are to anxiety judging by the frequency the topic is addressed in Scripture (Mt. 6:25-34; Phil. 4:6, etc.). All our panic, anxiety and fearfulness is due to a loss of confidence in the phrase, “My times are in your hand.” Like Habakkuk, we might look at our surroundings and feel as if the world is out of control and say, “How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear?” (Hab. 1:1)
It is easy to be overwhelmed by life’s uncertainties. Living on this sin-cursed earth, we are always steps away from disappointment, betrayal, abandonment, danger and death “but in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us…” (Rom. 8:37-39). The antidote is resigning our will to the Father’s and committing our spirit into the hands of the One who formed it. (Lk. 23:46; Psa. 139:13)
(3) Adversity should never be the occasion for self-pity.
All self-pity can be traced back to a failure to realize God’s control. But there comes a time when we all ask, “Why me?” and forget that the question should be, “Why not me?” (Jn. 15:20; 2 Tim. 3:12) Joseph had good reason to be miserable considering his circumstances and yet he said to his brothers who sold him into slavery, “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5).
In other words, “My times are in Your hand.” Joseph attributed his situation to God’s control, chalking the whole thing up to providence (Gen. 45:7-8). God can even use human evil to work out to His glory, shaping us into the image of His Son along the way (Rom. 8:28-29).
(4) Providence should always cultivate a sense of humility.
Prosperity causes most people to congratulate themselves but when Pharaoh asked if Joseph could interpret his dream, he didn’t say, “Oh, yeah! I’m great at dreams! I’m your man.” Instead, he said, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (Gen. 41:16)
When Goliath came slandering God’s people, David didn’t say, “Here I am! My name’s David, and I’m going to kill you!” Instead, he said, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand…” (1 Sam. 17:45-46). David knew God would provide the victory.
There was no pride in Joseph’s and David’s voice. Only humility and wonder and confidence in God’s power. We are dependent upon God at every level of our lives. Let’s not forget it by drawing attention to ourselves and trumpeting our achievements. Let us acknowledge that “in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)
(5) Providence should always increase our sense of security.
It is only when we are willing to commit ourselves to this truth, “My times are in your hand,” that we can ever be freed from the regrets of yesterday, strengthened for the challenges of today and safeguarded for the uncertainties of tomorrow.
Believe in the providence of God. But more than that, be trained by it to live a life of faithful obedience and submission to God’s will. Can you really say, as David did 3,000 years ago, “My times are in Your hand”?