May 5, 2021
Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
May 05, 2021
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns; and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
We have been focusing on that grand doctrine called divine providence. You could say it is one of the greatest doctrines in our Bible. It is found on almost every page. Even Jesus brings that to the fore here. He doesn’t use the word providence, but obviously He reminds us of God’s providence in terms of taking care of the birds and the lilies of the field. Jerry Bridges, who wrote Trusting God When Life Hurts (an excellent book on the sovereignty of God) says, “Anxiety is a lack of acceptance of God’s providence. He is orchestrating all circumstances and events in His universe for his glory and the good of his people.” Then Mr. Bridges goes on to say, very honestly and transparently, “Anxiety is one of my most persistent temptations.” I think we can all relate to that, right? It is a battle for most of us and I think it would increase as we get older because you realize more and more that you are not in control.
John Calvin, his mother died when he was four, he buried three of his children (babies) and his wife; but a scholar and historian described Calvin as a singularly anxious man. So Calvin struggled with anxiety.
Dr. Piper, as you read his writings you will notice that anxiety comes through loud and clear. His personal history goes all the way back to his high school years. He said he was so nervous and afraid he wouldn’t even want to stand up in front of people and wouldn’t even give a speech. He said, “I gave no oral report in school. I couldn’t run any class services or offices at school because I was afraid of campaign speeches. I was even afraid when I had to do a math problem on the blackboard, my hand was shaking.” He says he fought with anxiety almost all of his life. At times he uses the one promise of God in the battle against anxiety.
How do we fight against anxiety? There are several ways and several truths that would certainly be appropriate, and one is the providence of God. Why is the providence of God a comfort to God’s people? How can it help us deal with our anxiety problems? To know God’s ultimate design in providence. There are two basic designs of providence, for his glory and also for our good. Everything that God does in our lives is for his glory and also for our good. That should bring comfort to us when you think of the design or the purpose of His providence. But I believe something else is important when we want to fight our anxiety and bring comfort to the worrier. Remember the definition for divine providence, it is God’s powerful, purposeful and pervasive sovereignty at work. Pervasive is a key word when you want to understand God’s providence. Pervasive tells us the extent of divine providence. It means that God’s providence covers everything. It’s pervasive, universal. Everything, everybody at all times comes under God’s providence 24/7. God never takes his hands off the wheel of providence, never, not once; never ever in your life or my life. If you went to the Scriptures there are four major categories that cover everything and everybody.
- God rules and governs all creation and all nature. Every plant, every gust of wind, every bird, every animal, every drop of water. Psalm 104, “You cause the grass to grow.” And our Lord Jesus, “He feeds the birds and the ravens and clothes the lilies of the field.”
- God’s providence extends to all people and all nations. Proverbs 21, “He has the heart of the king in his hand.” So if it extends to the king it also extends to the pauper, to the greatest and to the least. Isaiah 40, “The nations of the world are like a drop in the bucket. He brings princes to naught and he makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.” Think of all of the great kings and great rulers, the pharaohs and the Herods, the Stalin’s, the Hitler’s, the Kennedy’s, the Bush’s; all under his sovereign control.
- God’s providence extends over all evil and all demons and the devil himself. We see that in the book of Job, Satan is on a leash, he couldn’t do any more than what God allowed him to do. The apostle Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh as a messenger of Satan. Satan is using the thorn to attack Paul, but Paul lets us know that God overrules, even the evil design of Satan, for his good purposes. He said, “God used my thorn to make me humble.” God uses it for good. So God overrules. Jesus showed his sovereignty over demons by his miracles; even on the cross he brings a crushing blow to the head of the serpent.
- God’s providence extends over all churches and his kingdom. The church of Jesus Christ wouldn’t exist today if Jesus Christ was not on the throne and he was not protecting his church, governing his church and building his church. That is a promise he gives us. As you read through the book of Acts you can see over and over again God protecting his church, governing his church, and guiding his church by the sovereign hand of God.
It is good to remind us of the pervasive nature of divine providence. He governs everything in nature; everything in terms of people; every demon; every church in all of God’s kingdom. So why can you trust God? Because you are one of his children and God is going to take care of you in everyday life. God, in his wondrous, mysterious, constantly exercising his providence for his purposes in our lives and he does that every day 24/7. So that should help us to worship him, thank him for his providence and help calm our worried hearts.