God’s providence means that everything happens according to God’s design (even permitting evil to work for the good of his people). It also refers to what God actually does in time. Most often we think of this last item when considering God’s providence over creation. This is where some run into questions when it comes to the evil that exists in the world.
What two questions would you ask God about the presence of evil in the world?
Read Genesis 50:20; Exodus 14:19,20; Psalm 5:4-6; Matthew 10:29-31; Acts 17:28; and 2 Thessalonians 1:6.
How do these passages help answer the questions you developed above? In general, the Genesis passage tells us that God can work through even the evil intent of others to bring about good. Exodus reminds us that God provides protection for his people. That care is detailed and complete as the Matthew passage reminds us. Everything depends on God’s care. But while the Lord continues to preserve this world, the Psalm passage tells us he does not participate in the evil that humanity inflicts on others. In the midst of suffering the message of God’s love and forgiveness in Christ sometimes finds fertile ground and brings joy.
There are three points of great comfort when considering God’s care for his creation: God’s preservation, God’s cooperation, and God’s governance.
God’s preservation is the fact that God daily cares for and sustains his creation.
One Lutheran church father prayed, “We live not, Lord, on bread alone; Without your blessing, bread is stone.” This is similar to the thought we express in the table prayer, “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed.” Nothing blesses us except what God provides.
At times God’s preservation is referred to as “continuous creation.” Psalm 104 depicts creation and God’s continual preservation.
Read Psalm 104:10-30.
Pick out three things that God continues to do in order to bless you today.
God also cooperates with his creation, that is, he enables creation to function. The apostle Paul says, “In [Jesus] all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). Without God’s cooperation everything would fall apart. Molecules wouldn’t form, cells wouldn’t bond, and life would cease to exist.
God cooperates with his creation according to the laws of nature he established. It is important to note that God cooperates with every action materially, that is, he does not generally suspend the laws of nature if a person is doing something evil. However, God does not cooperate with evil morally, that is, he is not responsible for someone’s evil intentions.
Considering the passages from the first section, what comforting truths can you share with the victim of an evil act?
Finally, God governs his creation. He directs the affairs of creation to carry out his will. God governs everything so that in the end, his people will be resurrected to live with him forever in a new heaven and a new earth. Since the fall into sin, our world is subject to corruption, but our world—and everything in it—still serves God’s purpose!
Read Genesis 1:26; Psalm 24:1; and Romans 8:18-21.
In a balanced way, answer someone who says, “Mankind is ruining the earth.” The Lord gave humanity a world in which to live and thrive. All that is under his control, but he asks us to be good stewards of our planet and all the blessings he gives us, including our health, family, friends, and all that he has allows us to manage. We manage it to the extent we can control things, but there are things we cannot control either individually or together. Sadly, the record of humanity’s care of earth, and even our own bodies and lives, is marred by greed, selfishness, and thoughtlessness.
Author: David Scharf
Volume 108, Number 12
Issue: December 2021
- Psalm 103: When you count your blessings
- Psalm 91: When God lifts you up on his lap
- Psalm 4: When you draw nearer to the end
- Psalm 42: When you ask, “Where is God when I’m hurting?”
- Psalm 32: When you need forgiveness
- Psalm 130: When rocks fall
- Bible study: Freedom in service
- What does this mean for me? Article 6
- Bible study: Spiritual gifts
- What does this mean for me? Article 5
- What does this mean for me? Article 4
- Bible study: Rejoice in your status!
- Bible study: Baptismal blessings
- What does this mean for me? Article 3
- What does this mean for me? Article 2
- Bible study: Gifts of tongues and miraculous healing
- What does this mean for me? Article 1
- Bible study: Jesus is everyone’s Savior
- Bible study: Love one another
- Bible study: Above all things!
- Bible study: The comfort of God’s providence
- The book of James: Waiting for Christ’s return
- Bible study: Precious grace
- The book of James: Active in using prayer
- Bible study: Rewards of grace
- The book of James: Active in showing love
- The book of James: Correctly evaluating riches
- Bible study: What’s going to happen on the Last Day?
- The book of James: Avoiding loveless judging
- Bible study: Interpretation practice
- The book of James: Taming the tongue
- Bible study: The Bible’s attributes
- Bible study: The importance of the family altar
- Bible study: God’s attitude is grace
- Bible study: The Bible’s account of Easter morning
- Bible study: Different types of sin
- Bible study: God’s inspiration
- Bible study: Giving God glory
- Bible study: Judge for yourself
- The book of James: Using the Word of Truth
- Bible study: The need for the Bible and worship
- Bible study: Citizens of two kingdoms
- The book of James: Active in good works
- The book of James: When battling temptation
- Bible study: God cares
- Bible study: God made the world
- The book of James: When facing trials
- Bible study: A loving God saved people from hell
- The book of James: A blueprint for living out our life of faith
- A Bible story just for me: Guilt
- Bible study: God provides victory over death!
- A Bible story just for me: Anxiety
- Bible study: God forgives and refuses to remember our sins
- A Bible story just for me: Grief
- Bible study: God helps those who cannot help themselves
- A Bible story just for me: Depression
- Bible study: God has not grown soft on sin
- Bible study: Only one path leads to God’s presence
- A Bible story just for me: Trauma
- A Bible story just for me
- Bible study: God wants me in heaven
- Bible study: The incarnation of our Lord