In recent days, I’ve thought much about the providence of God. Why did God allow a doctor to be on the street at the specific intersection in Edinburgh, Scotland at the precise moment of my daughter’s diabetic seizure? That moment has promoted my examination of a thousand other daily occurrences that have caused me to explore the deep wells of God’s divine providence. Thomas Watson writes, in his A Body of Divinity, “There is no such thing as blind fate, but there is a providence that guides and governs the world. “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is if the Lord” (Prov. 16:33).” [1]

Did God arrange your steps to cross paths with your spouse so that you would meet, fall in love, and eventually marry? Why did you grow up in the neighborhood where you were raised as a child, was that chance or was that ordered by God’s providence? What about the traffic problem you had on your way home from work that caused you to be late for supper last week, why did that happen?

Such questions are good questions to work through, but then we eventually come to much deeper questions such as why God allows pain in this world and why God caused you and I to be born into specific places where we would have such great access to the gospel while millions around the world have very little gospel light.

When working through such questions, there are both theological and ethical answers that people desire answers for, but none are beyond the realm of theological. For instance, who becomes president of the United States in 2020 falls into the realm of political, ethical, and theological—and at the end of the day—we trust that God is not watching CNN at midnight ringing his hands as he drinks his Double Shot Espresso from Starbucks to stay awake.

God is sovereign and as a result of his sovereign rule—he governs all things according to his providence. Notice how Paul explains this in Romans 11:36:

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

God is at work in all things and will bring about his glory. We can’t possibly evaluate the meticulous providence of God in his work of ordering all things, directing all things, and working all things for his eternal glory. Charles Spurgeon, tells a story of God’s providence where he was scheduled to preach to some 8,000 people, but a massive snow storm came and he thought that there would be nobody present in the building where he was the guest preacher for the day. Instead, when he arrived, there were some 5,000 to 6,000 people in attendance. That evening, a smaller crowd was gathered together, and that was when Spurgeon witnessed the providence of God. He explains the story as follows:

But mark the provident hand of God: in the evening, when the people were about to retire, and when there was scarcely more than a hundred persons there, a huge beam gave way, and down came a portion of the flooring of the gallery with a fearful crash. Several persons were precipitated with the planks, but still the good hand of God watched over us, and only two persons were severely injured with broken legs, which it is trusted will be re-set without the necessity of amputation. Now, had this happened any earlier, not only must many more have been injured, but there are a thousand chances to one, as we say, that a panic must necessarily have ensued similar to that which we still remember, and deplore as having occurred in this place. Had such a thing occurred, and had I been the unhappy preacher on the occasion, I feel certain that I should never have been able to occupy the pulpit again. Such was the effect of the first calamity, that I marvel that I ever survived. No human tongue can possibly tell what I experienced. The Lord, however, graciously preserved us; the fewness of the people in the gallery prevented any such catastrophe, and thus a most fearful accident was averted. But we have a more marvellous providence still to record. Overloaded by the immense weight of snow which fell upon it, and beaten by a heavy wind, the entire building fell with an enormous crash three hours after we had left it, splitting the huge timbers into shivers, and rendering very much of the material utterly useless for any future building. Now mark this—had the snow begun three hours earlier, the building must have fallen upon us, and how few of us would have escaped we cannot guess. [2]

The tragedy that occurred at Surrey Gardens still haunted Spurgeon in his memory when some 12,000 people were gathered for worship and a few people, prearranged and calculated, cried out “Fire! The galleries are giving way! The place is falling!” The result was a trampling rush to escape the building and such a rush claimed the lives of several people.

As Spurgeon tells the story of the beam falling and the eventual collapse of the building in the heavy snow pack, he can see how God was in complete control of the snow storm, the snow fall, when the snow fell, and the end result was that God saved thousands!

Have you considered the meticulous providence of God? It was R.C. Sproul who once stated, “There is no maverick molecule if God is sovereign.” Why did you hear the gospel preached the day that you were saved? Why did God arrange the salvation of your parents so that you would be discipled under their care in their home? God did this and it was for your good and for his glory.

You may say, as we often see in the psalms, why did God allow such pain in my life? Why have the enemies of God seemed to prevail over me? We must trust that God is wise and good. Even in the pain, we must trust God. Never doubt the fact that God is working out all things in both pleasure and pain according to his sovereign will. His providence guides and governs all things for his glory. As we pray, we must pray with confidence that God is able to turn our sorrow into a song—much like we see throughout the psalms (see Psalm 13 as an example).


 

  1. Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, (Edinburgh, Scotland: Banner of Truth Publishing, 1692; reprinted 2015), 119.
  2. Charles Spurgeon, Sermon titled, “Providence” delivered from New Park Street Pulpit. Text of Scripture: Matthew 10:30, April 11, 1858.
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