It’s official. It’s hurricane season. For this once land-locked Midwesterner, it’s my second hurricane season. Last year was a dud. We experienced a wimpy tropical storm that barely rained. My family in
So, we’ll spend another summer enjoying the nearness of the beach. We’ll play in the sand. We’ll spend time on the water. And, we’ll keep an eye toward the horizon and ear to the television. We’ll wait and see. We’ll pray for the best and prepare for the worst. And, we’ll trust God to protect us from the perfect storm that may come spinning toward us any time between now and November.
Millions of others today are already confronted by the perfect storm. They’re not worried about torrential downpours or potential landfalls. They’re dealing with struggles and tragedies of epic proportions already. Their miseries are Category 5 and above and the clouds just keep coming. They’re not looking for the eye of the storm. They’re looking for the end of the storm.
If you find yourself at ground zero of life’s trials, take great comfort in the doctrine of providence.
Many Christians love the notion of providence when it comes to those good and perfect gifts that come down from the Father of lights above. However, we balk when it comes to the heavy providences that bring affliction. We excuse God and we blame fate, or bad luck, or the devil himself. But, the Bible is clear. While God is not the author of evil, He is the controller of it. He permits it and He inhibits it. What the adversary and his child sin can accomplish is always restrained by the good hand of God.
God, not Satan, sent the storm that sent Jonah into the belly of the big fish. God, not Mother Nature, sent the storm that frightened the Apostles and turned their eyes to the Christ Who could walk on the waters. God, not ancient medicine, permitted Lazarus to die to show the strength of the Savior. God, not the sins of the parents, caused the man to be blind from birth to show God’s own glory.
While none of us would ever wish those events to befall our loved ones or our enemies, none of us can deny the biblical message communicated in those stories. Every one of those things happened according to the holy plans of God who had greater things in mind. All those “tragedies” fall under God’s grace in the doctrine of providence.
In providence, God sends the rain on the just and the unjust. In providence God keeps sin at bay by the present work of the Holy Spirit. In providence, God tries us. In providence, God delivers us. In providence, God brings glory to Himself.
Thus, in the storms of life, we pray that God would deliver us from evil, not simply protect us. We pray for forgiveness for those sins that may have brought the storms of life upon us. We ask that God would stay His hand of wrath. We beg that God’s will would be done and that He would conform our desires to His.
You see, the doctrine of providence doesn’t permit a weak-kneed God Whose plans are flustered by the works of wicked one. The doctrine of providence acknowledges the strength of God’s might, the perfection of His plans, and the greatness of His love.
If you’re in the middle of the storms of life, maybe it’s time you reflect deeply on the doctrine of providence. The old folk song got it right. You can withstand the storms of today and the dark providences of tomorrow when you “put your hand in the hand of the Man Who stills the waters.” After all, any storm that God controls is the perfect storm.
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About Peter Beck
Peter serves as assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University where he teaches church history and theology. While serving as senior pastor in Louisville, Ky., he completed his PhD in historic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation, The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards's Theology of Prayer, is soon to be published. He, his wife Melanie, and their two kids, Alex (12) and Karis (7), live near Charleston, SC. Peter's goal for his teaching and writing ministries is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5).
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