I believe that most people who take on the name “Christian” as representing their life have at some point wondered about all sorts of things in their lives. I think when we look at the state of the world, the state of the church and how it affects us we can’t help but sometimes be overwhelmed. I am not immune to this overwhelming sensation and there are days when I have become actually spiritually depressed by it all. I often have to come back to the biblical view of God in His Sovereignty. I take a moment to reflect upon the idea that through all this God is in control. This also allows me to reflect on the thought that God has had a plan before the foundation of the world for all this. What is not always easy to realize is that God is, in fact, accomplishing that plan through all that we see. We call this execution of God’s decree in time the Providence of God. It is the scriptural teaching that God is not only the creator of all thing but the sustainer of them as well. W. Grudem defines it as:
God is continually involved with all created things in such as a way that he (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and (3) directs them to fulfill his purposes [i]
God didn’t simply create and step back to allow everything to do what it jolly well wants. God is continuously working in bringing about His will. Also, The Lord of heaven is not simply working on fixing the mistakes of creation after the fall but only when necessary. In other words He is acts on occasion but is not really controlling anything. We will see from a scriptural point of view that this is not the case and that God is in fact fulfilling His purposes in all things that He has decreed before the world began.
We firstly will address the issue of God keeping things existing or as the writer of Hebrews states that Christ upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). The term upholds (phero) would refer to maintaining something intact. We also read Paul stating that in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). Existence itself owes all to the Lord since He is the maintainer of all of the creation that subsists whether humanity (Job 34:14-15) or any living thing.
The next logical question is does God essentially involve Himself in human decisions in order to accomplish His decrees? This has been a very delicate subject to address since many are apt to say that God cannot involve Himself in violating the libertarian free will. We read however the opposite in scripture in that the steps of a man are determined by God (Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 16:9; 20:24), that He determines the fate of kings (Prob. 21:1), the birth of children (Psalm 127:3), the affairs of nations (Job12:23, Psalm 22:28; 66:7) and all things He has willed He accomplishes (Ephesians 1:11)
God is still as active today as He has always been involved in human affairs. All things are working for the good of His purpose and will. Some might object based on the standard that we must insinuate that is God is the sustainer of all things to accomplish His counsel then He must be the author of evil. This is essentially flawed thinking since God is the author of evil but uses evil to accomplish His purposes. J.I. Packer explains:
Of the evils that infect God’s world (moral and spiritual perversity, waste of good, and the physical disorders and disruptions of a spoiled cosmos), it can summarily be said: God permits evil (Acts 14:16); he punishes evil with evil (Ps. 81:11-12; Rom. 1:26-32); he brings good out of evil (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 13:27; 1 Cor. 2:7-8); he uses evil to test and discipline those he loves (Matt. 4:1-11; Heb 12:4-14); and one day he will redeem his people from the power and presence of evil altogether (Rev. 21:27; 22:14-15)
Living according to this providence is not always easy however. This is why we must keep God’s providence in mind even through trials. We were told in scripture that we would suffer trials and hardships (Psalm 34:19) but that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). We must sometimes brace ourselves and take comfort in believing that all that happens will have a positive outcome no matter what because it is God’s purpose. Ultimately all God’s purposes are good and just! We must look around us to see this providence in action and to gather a better idea on how God is working through us to accomplish His will.
[i] Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem, Zondervan, 1994, Page 315