Participating in Divine Providence

  • Pete Johnson
man looking at starts at night

The world, since its creation, has always been a place where all kinds of things “just happen”, or so it seems. But is that the case? Do things really “just happen”, bad things and good alike? As a Christian, if I should believe in “happenstance”, what do I believe then about God, His sovereignty and His providence? Is God really in control? Can I take that to the bank when I lose my job when I get sick when a loved one dies? Or do I only believe and celebrate Divine Providence when the “good times” are rolling?

First, what exactly is Divine Providence? It is the theological concept that God has planned everything out and everything He has planned comes to pass. This is not foresight. Providence is not God adjusting to what is happening and then providing, this is God orchestrating what is happening… music already written.

Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’” (Isaiah 46:8–10).

So if God is in control, sovereign and providential how should I interact with that, especially with what is going on in the world today?

The Old Testament book of Esther gives us remarkable insight into Divine Providence and our participation in it as we live our everyday lives. It has been said that the book of Esther is “a Record of Wonders, without a Miracle.” Charles H. Spurgeon in his sermon, Providence- As seen in the Book of Esther, Nov.1, 1874 wrote:

The Lord intended by the narrative of Esther’s history to set before us a wonderful instance of his providence, that when we had viewed it with interest and pleasure, we might praise his name, and then go on to acquire the habit of observing his hand in other histories, and especially in our own lives.

The book of Esther never mentions the name of God. However, the reader who knows God personally sees Him in the entire text from beginning to end, working His predetermined plan. 

Esther, an orphan, raised by her uncle Mordecai, is chosen to be the Queen of the Persian empire. In verse ten of chapter one, “it just so happened” that on the very last day of the feast Queen Vashti refuses to appear before the King, thus prompting her replacement. Keep in mind this was the second of two feasts, the first being 180 days, so the last day of the last feast this happened! There were a lot of beautiful women in the Persian Kingdom, but “it just happened” that a woman who was hiding her nationality, A Jew, was chosen. Then in chapter two, Mordecai, also a Jew, discovers a plot to kill the king. Then Haman, who hates Mordecai and the rest of the Jews, plots to kill them all. Isn’t it interesting that Esther was made Queen before Haman even started plotting to kill the Jews? Hmm, coincidence?

“For some reason” in chapter six, the king is unable to sleep, and wow, would you believe it, he is inclined to read the “book of memorable deeds”, now that would certainly put you to sleep! The king finds out that “somehow” Mordecai has not been properly rewarded for saving the king’s life. Who drops the ball on something as important as this?

You get where I am going with this. God is all over, in, and around the events in these folks’ lives, making things happen when he wants them to happen, not sooner, nor later than. And perhaps, they don’t even recognize it! Sound familiar? You know the rest of the story, if not read it, it’s only ten chapters.

Now, one of the biggest takeaways I believe, is what we see in chapter four, it’s what Esther does, and what she encourages Mordecai and the other Jews who are in the city to do.

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:15–16).

I believe, like others, that this was not merely a three-day diet plan, but there was praying that was going along with the fasting and a whole lot of it! There were a lot of things the Jews couldn’t do, but they could pray and encourage each other.

Too many times as Christians, we fail to participate in the Providential plan of God because we feel that there is nothing we can do. Part of God’s providential plan is for us to grow by exercising our faith by participating. God has placed us where we are for His purpose. Have you prayed and inquired of God to find out for what practical purpose he has placed you where you are now?

So how can we participate in Divine Providence; particularly in what we are living through now? We can all pray and spend more time in God’s Word and with our families. We can call, send text messages and emails to folks that we know need encouraging. We can drop off food, medicine, and other needed items. And there are some as well who have been blessed financially who can help ease the burden of some who are in financial need.

Our wisdom is not to desire another place, nor to judge those who are in another position, but each one being redeemed with precious blood of Jesus, should consecrate himself fully to the Lord, and say, “Lord, what would thou have me to do, for here I am, and by thy grace, I am ready to do it.” Forget not then the fact that God in his providence places his servants in positions where he can make use of them (C.H. Spurgeon).