AN ENCOURAGING WORD IN A DISCOURAGING WORLD: A WORD OF PROVIDENCE
Paul, the Apostle, had a will. He wanted desperately, by any means possible to reach Rome and visit the church there. He writes concerning his prayer to God, “making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you” (Rom.1:10 NKJV).
He had not started the church. But, from all that he heard of them, he knew they would be an encouragement to him if he came there. Paul understood that the heart of the empire would be an incredible launching pad to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Yet, even though Paul had a will, he knew that God did also, and for whatever reason in the providence of God, the Lord had not seen fit to allow the Apostle to reach Rome. Paul was content to rest in that providence. He recognized that God knew more than he did and even when he didn’t understand God’s ways fully that God could always be trusted. Perhaps Paul pondered this verse, “A man’s mind plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps” (Prov. 16:9). That is providence.
Paul meant what he said about reaching Rome by any means possible and God in His time and His way made it happen. It is a good thing though that Paul meant it, for the way he would reach the city would be in chains, counted a criminal, transported by a ship through a horrible storm, cast into the ocean when the ship went down and experiencing snakebite when he reached shore! You can read all about it in Acts 27-28. That is providence.
Some may be wondering, “What is providence?” It is rooted in a composite Latin word meaning pro—ahead and videre—to see. So, it is God seeing all things before they occur and working to accomplish His will in all things.
Here’s the encouragement—nothing ever catches God by surprise. What’s more, He will accomplish His perfect plan whatever the circumstances may seem, whether we view them as good or evil in and of themselves. And the end result—listen—is ALWAYS for His glory and our good! (Rom.8:28).
Some of us have made plans—good plans—and we have run into dead ends at every turn. We prayed about it, we tried to do it right and all that has happened is a mess. That’s discouraging—unless we factor in the providence of God. Even a man of such insight as Paul had to admit, “Now, we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Now, we know in part, but then we shall know even as we also are known.” (1 Cor.13:12)
The world is a mess and days are growing darker. We look at the heart-wrenching scenes from Haiti, for instance, and wonder, “Where is God in this?” He’s there—He’s at work—and when we can’t know how it all fits yet, we do know some. Don’t you know that these convulsions that are rocking our world are simply the birth pains of a new world that is coming? Jesus said that when we would see all these things to lift up our heads for our redemption draws near! (Luke 21:25-28).
Maybe you’ve had your own mini-earthquake. Something in your life has shaken you. You feel jostled by circumstances beyond your control. Just remember that in a world that appears out of control, God is firmly in control. That’s the encouragement we find in this word: providence!
Why don’t you pause from whatever is happening in the maelstrom of your life and take a deep breath, focus on God and whisper a prayer of thanks to Him for His providence? Share your will with Him. Express the desires of your heart. But, then rest in the will of God. Father knows best.