“Believing in Providence”

"My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!”

(Psalm 31:15)

King David, who wrote the psalm quoted above, believed in God's providence, his power to direct events to accomplish his good will. Psalm 31 is David's trusting cry for God's help. In the same psalm, he prayed, "Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God." (v.5) David believed in God's providential power and placed his life in the capable "hands" of God. What practical effects would this have if we did the same?

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. 5:45Acts 14:17Jas. 5:7). Likewise, if we are financially successful, we must thank God who gives us the ability to get wealth (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). Israel’s rescue from Egyptian bondage was not due to Moses’ leadership abilities or Pharaoh’s cowardice but of God’s "hand" (Ex. 3:7-9). So it is with our deliverance from darkness (Col. 1:13-14).

Uncertainty should never be the occasion for panic. Judging by the frequency the topic is addressed in Scripture, God knows how prone we are to anxiety (Mt. 6:25-34Phil. 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 broken, seemingly out of control world 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. We are always a step 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 for anxiety is found in submitting our will to the Father’s and committing our spirit into the hands of the One who formed it. (Lk. 23:46Psa. 139:13)

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. 15:202 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). Joseph chalked the whole thing up to providence (Gen. 45:7-8). God can even use human evil to work out to his glory. And if we trust him, he can shape us into the image of his Son along the way (Rom. 8:28-29).

Providence should always cultivate a sense of humility. Ability 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 the words of Joseph or David, only humility 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)

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. Even more, be trained by God's providence so that you can pray with David, "My times are in your hand."