God’s presence is always there

Published 3:12 pm Monday, January 25, 2010

One of the characteristics attributed to God is that of divine providence.

It is our way of describing the idea that God cares for and tends to every part of creation. Obviously, at the root of providence is the word provide. That’s a word of which we certainly have a good understanding. We know what it is to provide for our families or our friends, and we know what it is to be provided for by those same folks. But, the providence of God is deeper, indeed, more divine its unfolding than our providing. The dictionary defines providence as particularly affected by God with no mention of human ability at all, saying simply that providence is “God’s care and help.”

John Calvin describes providence with these words, “God sustains, nourished, and cares for everything God has made. Even to the last sparrow.” (Calvin’s Institutes, Book I, Chapter XVI, Section I)

The providence of God is a deep well of comfort from which we can draw. No doubt as life unfolds all around us, we encounter all kinds of experiences and situations. Providence assures us that we experience nothing outside of God’s care and help. This does not mean that everything that happens to us or around us is God’s doing or God’s plan for us. But, that in whatever state or condition we find ourselves, God is present and at work to bring good.

The apostle Paul said as much in Romans 8:28.

“For we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

There is hardly a greater statement of divine providence anywhere else in scripture. God is deeply involved in the experience of life, and God desires good to come from our life. Providence is that deep spring of assurance and comfort that lets us know God is not removed from us, not even distances from us, God is near, close by, intimate and caring for the creation and all that is in it.

Sometimes it’s hard to think of providence when we see all hurt, pain, misery and destruction that are presently at work on the earth. Some of that hurt and pain is far away in countries where war ravages and famine kills. But, some is closer to home, where friends and loved ones are sick or broken down from the weight of their circumstances. It seems somewhat natural to question God’s care in these instances, wonder about where God is and what God is doing, if anything at all. See, we tend to reduce our thoughts to the simplest of terms and assume that if life is not going our way, pleasing us in every facet then God must not care of us. And, when we are guilty of that we miss out on the mystery of God that is divine providence.

Life is not painless. Life is not without some grief or worry. But, for those who follow God and pursue God’s will for their lives, persistently there is help and hope even in the painful, uncomfortable days of living. God is with us. God is present. God is giving us help and care.