The word providence comes from the Latin pro and videre, meaning “to see beforehand.” Our word provision comes from the same source. We know that God sees everything before hand. So as we turn to the Bible’s teaching on this subject, we will see that there is a very close connection between God’s providence over all things, and His provision for all our needs.
First, the doctrine of providence. Providence refers to God’s foresight and oversight of all things. Our lives are lived out in His presence. Just a few of many passages should suffice to make the point. “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him”(Matt. 6:8). “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). Even when bad things happen . . . “If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?” (Amos 3:6). So we begin with the bedrock assumption that God is in complete control. He is not chasing after the universe the way a man might chase his hat on a windy day.
This means that we may trust Him for His provision. Biblically understood, few doctrines are sweeter than this one. “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:29-31). Jesus does not teach us to simply refrain from fear. That sort of “stiff upper lip” Stoicism is not Christian. He says do not fear therefore. When we as Christians refrain from anxiety, we are to do so from a doctrinal base. That foundation is a full confidence in the providence of God. Christ reasons from the Father’s providence over things which are trivial to us. And if this is the case, then how much more should be we confident that He watches over us in every respect? And if this is the case, then how can we fall into the worries of “little-faith”?
What are the steps in obedience? There is more to learning how to do this than to be told to just “trust God.” How many times have you thought (and perhaps said), “Yeah, right.” The first thing is to acknowledge that what the Bible teaches about God’s providence is true. These blessings are found in the garden of God’s word. Do not try to climb the fence. Get the blessings honestly — through the door God has opened. Second, obedience is not an emotional frame of mind. Your heart and mind do not guard the peace of God. It is the other way around. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). The peace of God guards you. You do not guard the peace of God. The key here is thanksgiving. Paul says, “with thanksgiving.” It is thanks which keeps you from worrying on your knees. So third, thank God for the situation in which you are to trust Him. We are to thank Him for everything. “. . . giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20). This includes hard providences, and severe mercies. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials . . .” (Jas. 1:2). The Greek word for trial here does not refer to powder puff derbies. Fourth, sing to the Lord. In the passage in Ephesians 5, Paul has told the saints to address one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. In this musical context, he then told us to thank God for everything. “I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works . . . The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble . . . Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion! . . . . Have mercy one me, O Lord! Consider my trouble from those who hate me . . . (Ps. 9:1,9,11, 13).
is the praise of a believing heart.