Except - everything that happens to us is providence, right? Everything! In our Christian parlance, however, we sometimes like to reserve those things we think are extra-special as "providential," as if they wouldn't have happened to us any other way than an extraordinary working of God for our benefit.

For example, somebody gets a better job in a more exciting city, and they talk about it as though they wouldn't have gotten that job or the opportunity to move to the more desirable city without God's explicit intervention on their behalf. Hey - at least they're giving God the credit! We often forget to even do that.

Still, people get jobs and lose them all the time. Promotions can be awarded whether the employee really deserves it or not. God allows plenty of things to happen – things that we may see as good or bad – without giving us the immediate ability to see their merit. That’s part of His sovereignty. And that’s the reason we need to trust Him for His provision in His time.

Sometimes, God's people don't get chosen for promotions, but He's still sovereign, right? According to Psalm 145:9, God is "good to all," and "has compassion on all He has made." That's the essence of what we call His “common grace.” The sun shines and the rain falls on both the just and the unjust, according to Matthew 5:45. Not that it's wrong for us believers in Christ to credit Him when good things happen to us. But how often, when good things happen to us, do we credit our own specialness or worthiness as the reason? Or when we think we're missing out on something good, do we assume it's due to some fault of ours? Or God’s?

Look at it this way: How often do we credit God with the loss of a job, or our singlehood? How much less providential are these things? Not everything "bad" that happens to us is our fault, is it? Inequity, remember, is part of life, even as Americans! Yet God can use what we think is negative for His glory, and His glory is the reason for our very existence, right? Scripture doesn't tell us that we should be happy when "bad" things happen to us, unless we're suffering something directly because of our faith in Christ. But evaluating God's goodness to us based on the desirable qualities of those things He allows us to steward and enjoy is only half the story, isn't it?

In some mysterious way, only in God's perfect Kingdom is there true equality, even though we may be responsible for different facets of His assets. There's the parable of the talents, remember, and also the metaphor of the parts of the body. Cool, huh?

So, if something isn't granted to us, couldn't that withholding be a form of goodness from God, too? Maybe not an enjoyable goodness, but something holding a lesson for us to learn more about God's providence? Whether God gives us something or doesn't, is it necessarily based on whether or not we've earned it, or deserved it?

Sometimes, it doesn't seem that God "gives," as much as He "allows." What He allows us to experience is going to vary, and He’s given all of His children His promise to be with us and guide us through whatever He allows.

Is God allowing you to be single?

Are you?

From his smorgasboard of church experience, ranging from the Christian and Missionary Alliance to the Presbyterian Church in America, Tim Laitinen brings a range of observations to his perspective on how we Americans worship, fellowship, and minister among our communities of faith. As a one-time employee of a Bible church in suburban Fort Worth, Texas and a former volunteer director of the contemporary Christian music ministry at New York City's legendary Calvary Baptist, he's seen our church culture from the inside out. You can read about his unique viewpoints at o-l-i.blogspot.com.

Publication date: September 10, 2013