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God Provides

June 22, 2021

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”(Romans 8: 28).

Providence is not only the name of the capital of Rhode Island, but it is also the name of 24 other American cities and countless schools and ships.  Other places around the world bear the name Providence, as well as medical centers, health insurance companies, films, television shows, restaurants, and even an investment company.  The word providence comes from the Latin word, providentia –meaning to see in advance [from pro (ahead) and videre (to see)] or to provide for.  Many of the places and entities named Providence refer to God’s providence—trusting that God has provided and will continue to provide. 

On July 4th we will celebrate Independence Day, remembering the day in our history on July 4, 1776, when delegates to the Continental Congress, trusting in the providence of God, voted to declare America’s independence from Great Britain.  They stated, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor” (emphasis added).

This year we have witnessed God’s providence as we see COVID-19 deaths plummeting and as we regain our freedom of association–largely on account of the miraculous medical advances made during the past 18 months to combat the scourge of the pandemic. 

The Scripture texts for next Sunday all speak of the importance of trusting in God’s providence.[1] It is a theme that crosses boundaries of time and distance.  God’s providence does not just refer to his ability to see into the future, but to his absolute authority and sovereignty.   Nothing occurs by chance.  “Chance” does not exist; it merely describes a mathematical probability.  God not only created the universe, but he continues to sustain it.  We can trust in God’s providence to continue to provide for us. 

The prophet Jeremiah told us that God will help us when we turn to him; he is ever faithful: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. . . The Lord is good to those who hope in him” (Lamentations 3: 22-25).  Thomas Chisholm’s great hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” is based on Lamentations 3:22-23.[2]  Due to ill health and other circumstances, he never made much money, but wrote of God’s “wonderful displays of His providing care” in his life.  Just as God, through Jeremiah, promised to care for his children, so Chisholm declared 2500 years later that God, in his providence, cared for him throughout his life.  God’s providence is a theme that crosses boundaries of time and distance.

Similarly, David, conceding the threats and insecurities rampant in our lives, sang of God’s great providence in delivering him: “I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths . . . I called to you for help, and you healed me . . . you spared me from going down into the pit . . . weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Excerpts, Psalm 30: 1-5). 

Just as God hears our pleas and delivers us today– in his perfect timing and as it fits into his plan for our lives—Jesus, in his great compassion, responded to requests to heal and to make whole those who were suffering.  Jesus was on his way to heal the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue leader, when a woman touched his robe.  The great faith and confidence in Jesus’ healing powers brought the woman (who had been bleeding for 12 years) to him.  When she touched the hem of his garment she was healed: “Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering” (Mark 5: 29).  When Jesus noticed the woman, he said: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5: 34).  Her faith was the key to her healing.  God is good and he responds to those who turn to him in faith.

After healing the woman Jesus proceeded to Jairus’ house to heal his daughter even after he was told that it was too late because the child had died.  But Jesus insisted on seeing her, saying, “’The child is not dead but asleep . . .’ he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up’).  Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old)” (Mark 5: 39-42).

God’s providence is the subject of the eighth chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians.  He refers to the 40 years following the exodus when God provided food in the form of manna to the Israelites in the desert.  Even though God told them to gather only enough manna for one day, some people took more to keep for the next day.  Their hoarding backfired; the manna became spoiled and riddled with maggots.  He tells the Corinthians that they should use now what they have to help others and not hoard their wealth; God will provide: “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.  The goal is equality, as it is written: ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little’” (2 Corinthians 8: 15; Exodus 16: 18).  He was telling the Corinthians to give of their abundance to help the needy church in Jerusalem and God will provide for tomorrow.  

When you celebrate our country’s independence this year, remember that God’s providence is a theme that crosses the boundaries of time and distance.  Have faith in the divine providence that infused our founding fathers.  God will respond to you when you turn to him in faith.  Depend on his providence to see you through life’s vicissitudes.  Have faith that he always has your best interests at heart and will work all things in your life for good:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8: 28).  

Even when the end of our troubles is not in sight—when we can’t see a possible solution—God can.  He will use your pain, sorrow, and despair in his perfect timing to further his plan.  He is the master chess player who can see a zillion moves ahead.  He knows how it will all fit together.  And if you believe and have faith, he will use you and your experiences.  

If you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, know that God can see the light because God is light.  Let his light infuse you with hope.  Know that you are not alone in your suffering and despair.  He is with you, and he will stay by your side until the end—wherever you are.  He will light your way.  Have faith.  He can see ahead, and will steer you in the right direction. 

Prayer: “Give us, Lord, a humble, quiet, peaceable, patient, tender and charitable mind, and in all our thoughts, words, and deeds a taste of the Holy Spirit.  Give us, Lord, a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, a love of you. Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation, dullness in prayer. Give us fervour and delight in thinking of you and your grace, your tender compassion towards us. The things that we pray for, good Lord, give us grace to labour for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”  Thomas More (1478-1535)

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the Fifth Sunday After Pentecost are Lamentations 3:22-33; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:1-9; 13-15; Mark 5: 21-43.

[2] Lyrics from Chisholm’s 1925 hymn: “Great Is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!  There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Though changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not, As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.  Refrain: Great Is Thy faithfulness, Great Is Thy faithfulness, Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me!”

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