March 17, 2021
Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
March 17, 2021
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will drink, nor 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 be 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. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
Dr. John Piper has written a book and it has just been published from the Westminster Press. He has gone through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation to show that there is nothing that escapes or is outside of God’s sovereign will and purpose. R.C. Sproul has said, “There is not one maverick molecule in the universe; everything that happens in this world from hurricane to tornado to the rising of the sun to the falling of rain comes under the purposeful, pervasive and powerful sovereignty of God.” There is a wonderful definition of providence found in the Heidelberg Catechism written in 1563. Catechism question #27 asks, “What do you understand by the providence of God? “ And the answer, “The almighty, everywhere present power of God whereby as it were, by his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth with all creatures; and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat, drink, health, sickness, come not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.” I like the way they conclude it with the little phrase, “by his fatherly hand.” They start things off by the everywhere present, but they conclude by saying, “by his fatherly hand.” Everything that happens, be it my life or your life, good, bad, every pleasure, every pain, we have to remember that it ultimately comes and is ordained by our heavenly Father.
Jesus makes that very point in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus didn’t believe that the world we live in was controlled by natural law or by fate or by any impersonal force. But he talks here about little creatures called birds and flowers; and he wants us to know that your Heavenly Father takes care of all of those. Remember what the point of this passage is, he is trying to cure our anxiety problems. How do you free people from anxiety? Jesus says, “Look at the birds. How do those birds find worms? Who is feeding them? Robins and sparrows, who is taking care of them?” Jesus says, “Your heavenly Father.” Look at the flowers, they are dressed up and clothed more than anybody in those days could have been in terms of the king, of royalty like Solomon. Anybody in Hollywood today, the actress on the red carpet with all of her dress and riches. The heavenly Father, he says, clothes every flower. So you see the argument he is making, he is going from the lesser to the greater. If he cares for the little creatures, the birds and even the inanimate creation, the flowers, don’t you think, as a child of God, that he cares for you and will take care of you? Then he drives home a little bit of a rebuke, “O you of little faith.” If you are one of God’s children, you would have to believe that He loves you more than you will ever, ever know and ever, ever comprehend.
Spurgeon, arguably the greatest preacher in the English speaking world, suffered from deep depression. It started at the age of 24. His health began to break down at the age of 33. He had a wife that was semi-invalid. He was attacked by the modern press of that day more than any preacher probably in human history. They went after him for his Calvinism. Here is what he said in regard to his depression, “My spirits have sunk so low that I can weep by the hour like a child, yet not know why I am weeping.” Spurgeon endured to the end, and preached his last sermon on June 7, 1891. The question people have asked is, “How did he persevere and preach through such adversity?” He believed in the providence of God. The purposeful, powerful, pervasive sovereignty of God. Spurgeon said this, “The providence of God is the great protector of our lives and usefulness. Under the divine care we are perfectly safe from danger.”
So Christian, Brethren, we need to meditate much on the providence of God. I recommend the book by John Piper. He points out that the powerful, purposeful sovereignty of God. That is how he tries to define it. I added another P, pervasive. That is why we can take the promise of Romans 8:28, that all things work for our good, because this God made all things, controls all things, sustains all things. So when you begin to suffer from anxiety, remember the providence of God. Look at the birds, look at the flowers, not for aesthetic purposes, but for moral holy purposes, to battle with your anxiety. To quiet your fears, to calm your hearts, and so you might exercise faith in your heavenly Father.