Divine Providence: God's Care For His People
"We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His decree." We find these comforting words in Romans 8:28.
God has plans for us, plans for our good (Jeremiah 29:11). God is creator and master of the world. God is also the Lord of history. Through the events of history, God guides His people to perfection. We call this "Divine Providence."
At times we face many problems. Some Christians have faced persecution because of their faith. There is the problem of evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem that God does not answer our prayers in the way that we had hoped. All of these things can try our faith. We may find ourselves tempted to doubt or to give up on our prayers.
At such moments we need to trust that God is in control of the whole world and its history. Things may not happen in the way that we expect. However God, in His almighty providence, can bring good even from the consequences of evil.
Paul knew this first from the history of his Jewish people. We read this in the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. Joseph's brothers had sold him into slavery in Egypt. However he rose to a position of power in Egypt. Later, Joseph was able to help his brothers during a time a famine.
Reflecting on what had happened, Joseph explained God's workings to his brothers. "It was not you," said Joseph to his brothers, "who sent me here, but God." "You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive." We read the story of Joseph beginning in Genesis 37. The passage above is from Genesis 45:4-8.
The life of Jesus Christ is the greatest example of God's providence. The greatest moral evil every committed was the rejection and murder of God's only Son, caused by the sins of all men. However, where sin has abounded, God's grace has abounded all the more (Romans 5:20). From this greatest of evils God brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Jesus Christ and our redemption.
Of course evil is still evil. God would much prefer to bring good out of our good. However, God's power and grace can even bring good out of evil. This knowledge was a comfort to Paul. This knowledge can be a comfort to us in the midst of whatever difficulties or evils we may face in life.