Finding Comfort in God's Divine Providence
Change! That dreaded word that rocks the boat of certainty. We are creatures of habit. We like certain things to be consistent for various reasons. When things are certain, then our kingdom is secured. But bring the waves of change, and our kingdom is turned on its head. We scramble to right the ship. We look to God to put it all back the way we want it.
But that is not how God works. He doesn’t stop to ask us what we want. He doesn’t consult us before change affects us. In fact, all the events of our lives are on thin ice. Change always seems to be around the corner.
But we must not think that change is set loose to do whatever it desires to do. Change can’t impact us haphazardly. It must submit to divine sovereignty and providence. This is where we find great comfort in our great God. Even as change happens, our God doesn’t. His character and attributes stay the same forever. Nothing can change God. Hebrews 13:8 solidifies this truth, saying, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Malachi 3:6 confirms, “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”
Our God is our Anchor of consistency. He is always faithful to who He is, to His character. He is our unchangeable God. As Christ-followers, we trust Him when change occurs. When things are out of our control we must trust Him. Considering this, I love what John Calvin writes in volume one of his book, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Calvin writes, “Ignorance of providence is the greatest of all miseries, and the knowledge of it the highest happiness” (Institutes 1.17.11). Without Providence we will be miserable people, yet as we embrace it, we delight in what God allows, knowing that He is in control. We don’t have to be stressed out. Providence gives us hope and happiness even when we are confronted with change. We have nothing to fear if God ordains, governs, and allows whatever comes to pass. Our ultimate good in Him will be achieved, and we can trust that even the worst this world has to offer will finally be used to glorify the Lord and benefit us. That is why Romans 8:28 is so precious to us: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Because Providence is so precious to the life of the believer in Jesus Christ, I want to give you a simple definition that helps us understand this doctrine. John MacArthur defines divine providence as, “. . . God’s preserving his creation, operating in every event in the world, and directing the things in the universe to his appointed end for them.” A key aspect of Providence is that God sees and knows the future, having declared the end from the beginning. Isaiah 46:8–10 says, “Remember this, and be assured; recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’”
Our great God works out all things according to the counsel of His goodness and wisdom. God's providence is one of the most comforting truths revealed in Scripture. It strips the impact of change’s bite and removes its teeth. It reminds the believer that the loving Father revealed in the Bible knows all about our every need and our fears even better than we do. And because He is the Lord, He can meet all our needs and calm all our fears. Philippians 4:19 reminds us of this: “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, beloved, we have no reason to be afraid of change. It is chained to and must obey our great and sovereign Lord.