The word providence comes from the Latin word provideo, which means “to see beforehand.” Thus, God’s providence has to do with Him seeing or knowing beforehand what we need and “making a provision for our needs [cf. Gen. 22:8].”
GOD FOR US
God’s providence has to do with God controlling all things by His sovereignty, so that nothing happens by chance but “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). “If God be for us, who can be against us, and who can separate us from the love of Christ?” Paul says “that no matter what we have to endure in this world as Christians, nothing has the power to sever the relationship we have to a loving and sovereign providence [Rom. 8:31-37].”
Therefore, we are not supposed to worry; we are to trust in the God who will meet our needs [Matt. 6:25-34]; “but it is natural to worry about painful things and about the loss of things we value. We do not want to lose our loved ones, our health, our safety, or our possessions, but even if we do, God is working all things for our good…. We find that hard to believe because we are shortsighted. We feel the pain and loss now, and we do not see the end from the beginning, as God does, yet God tells us that the sufferings we have to endure in this world are not worthy to be compared with the glory He has laid up for His people in heaven (Rom. 8:18).” It is a comfort to know our lives are in His hands, and that He governs all things in His wisdom and goodness.
PROVIDENCE AND ASEITY
We noted in an earlier chapter that God’s Aseity is His self-existence, that He alone has the power of being within Himself. This means that what “God creates and brings into being, He then sustains and preserves. Therefore, not only are we dependent on God for our origin, but we also are dependent on God for our moment-by-moment existence…. In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).”
“Our culture [including the church] has been heavily influenced by the pagan view that nature operates according to fixed independent laws, as if the universe were an impersonal machine that somehow came together by chance…. However, the biblical view is that there could not be a universe in the first place apart from the divine act of creation, and when God created the universe, He did not step out of the picture and let it operate on its own. What we call ‘the laws of nature’ merely reflect the normal way in which God sustains or governs the natural world.”
It is scientifically impossible to assign power to chance, “because chance is simply a word that describes mathematical possibilities. Chance is not a thing. It has no power. It cannot do anything.”
The doctrine of concurrence means that God and man act in the same act, but God is not the author of sin. For example, when Joseph said to his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” [Gen. 50:20], “he meant that although his brothers had intended something evil, the good providence of God stood above that, and God was working through their wickedness for the good of the people.
[Adapted from chapter 15 of Everyone’s a Theologian by R.C. Sproul]