What is providence? This is how the dictionary defines it:
1. The foreseeing care and guidance of God or nature over the creatures of the earth
2. God, especially when conceived as omnisciently directing the universe and the affairs of humankind with wise benevolence
We see evidence of God’s providence in stories throughout the Bible. In Genesis we read about Joseph, son of Jacob, who was sold into slavery by his own brothers. He experienced time in prison and through God’s gift of prophetic dreams became ruler over all of Egypt. The people from Egypt and surrounding lands were saved from starvation and death, including Joseph’s family. All of this because he was put in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time. This was not a coincidence. This was God’s providence, working all things together for the good of His people.
Years later, in Exodus, we read another story of God’s providence, the story of Moses. As a baby he was sent in a basket down the Nile River so as not to be killed because of Pharoah’s decree to have the Israelite newborn boys drowned. Moses just happened to be saved from the river by Pharoah’s own daughter, and then raised by a nursemaid who happened to be his real mother. He grew up in the palace, learning to read, write, and be trained as no other Israelite in Egypt would have been. He was chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and out of slavery, eventually leading them to the promised land. Were all of these incidents really just happenstance? Once again, God’s hand is at work, bringing salvation and justice for His people.
One final story is from the book of Esther. Esther, a Jew, was forced into a marriage with the king of Persia. One of his noblemen got the king to sign a decree to have all of the Jews killed, beginning with Esther’s cousin Mordecai. The first part of his plan backfired when the king chose to honor Mordecai for saving his life years earlier. Esther then went before the king, knowing that she could be killed for doing so, to beg for the lives of her people. He accepted her pleas and even gave Mordecai the highest honor. Her position as queen helped save the Jewish people from annihilation. This is one of my favorite stories of God’s providence because there is no mention of God in this scripture, and yet we see Him clearly at work as we read through it.
In Esther 4:14 Mordecai says, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Mordecai was right. This is exactly what God planned for her in order to save His chosen people. His providence is at work in story after story and He has chosen us to be part of His plan.
There’s even more good news — God’s providence is still at work today, in our very own lives. Every decision that we make has an effect on our lives, and the future lives of others. We do not know what’s in store for us here on this earth, but we can trust in our Heavenly Father and the plans He has for us. We can look back at the evidence of His providence in our lives, even when times were difficult, and see His hand at work. We can pray for His Will to be done and look forward with hope to a future with our Savior.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28