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What does our God have to do with the xylem inside that celery stick you cut up in biology? What does He have to do with the battles of ancient Rome you learnt about in history? What does He have to do with your eating, drinking, going out, studying, sleeping and procrastinating?
Everything. Whether it’s the laws of nature, the course of history, or the very events of our lives, our sovereign God is actively involved in providing, sustaining and governing all things for His ultimate purpose. This is providence. And this is a wonderful reality for all of God’s people because God’s ultimate purpose has to do with us! Let’s explore this truth together by seeing what the Bible says about our ideas of God, and what the Bible says about our powerful, sovereign, active and purposeful God.
Our Ideas of God
Many in our generation do not believe in God. And if they do, the god they imagine is an old guy who created this world. Maybe he’s nice or a tad creepy, but overall, he’s tired and has given up. Humans and the world didn’t turn out the way he intended, so he’s said, “I’m done” and left humans to fight, try and have fun, and do whatever they want. In their minds, God is somewhere ‘up there’ but has little relevance to their everyday lives.
Even many Christians think this way about God. “Yeah maybe God’s got a plan for my life and yep, I’ve got to believe in Jesus to go to heaven. But today? Well I’m just doing life. Church is on Sunday but aside from that, my studies and friends and what I do day to day doesn’t have much relevance with God, does it?”
Our problem is not misinformation or misunderstanding. Our problem is ignorance and dishonour. See what Romans 1:19-23 has to say.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
God makes His eternal power and divine nature plain through His creation. We’re a sinful people who blatantly reject an all-powerful, all-sovereign, all-active, and all-purposeful God. In our sinful minds, we think that kind of God is cruel and dictatorial. Really, we can’t accept that we’re not all-powerful, all-sovereign, all-active, and all-purposeful in and of ourselves. We don’t like this idea of God because that means we can’t be ‘God’.
But God is not cruel. In the Bible, the powerful, sovereign, active, and purposeful God is a holy, just, loving and providing God. And for believers, this God is a God who “in all things, works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).
Our Powerful, Sovereign and Active God
Our God is a powerful, sovereign and active God. He “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). Nothing happens outside of His intention. Everything — from water-transporting xylem to the whole world’s history, to your everyday eating and drinking — is powerfully and actively governed according to His will. This does not mean that man has no free will but that’s a discussion for another article.
Our powerful God “forms light and creates darkness, makes well-being and creates calamity, He is the LORD who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7 paraphrased). Our sovereign God makes every decision (Proverbs 16:33) and none of His purposes can be thwarted (Job 42:2). Our active God is involved in the growing of the grass (Psalm 104:14), the feeding of the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26), the deliverance of His people from Egypt (Exodus 20:2), the predestination of His people (Ephesians 1:5), even the death of Christ on the cross (Acts 4:28).
Everything is under His control and everything happens according to His plan. As the renowned theologian R.C. Sproul used to say, “there are no maverick molecules”. Everything — the good, the bad, the small, the large, the noticeable, the unnoticable, the physical, the metaphysical, the past, the present, the future, and the list goes on. This is the biblical God, the God who knows what you did in the past, what you are doing now, what you will do in the future, and who you will become at the end.
Our Purposeful God
But what is the end of God’s power, sovereignty and activity in all of creation? Why does He govern and sustain all things? Does God have a purpose in all this?
Yes He does. His purpose is to work all things in this world for the good of those who love Him. And what is that good? That in witnessing the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy, His people can once again enjoy God as their supreme treasure and praise Him forever. This is the ultimate end of providence.
God governs the xylem inside plants to transport water from the roots to the stem and to the leaves so the plant can undergo photosynthesis and ultimately provide us with air to breath. God gives us air so we can breathe and live to repent, to turn back to Him, and learn to treasure Him forever. God also governs the forces at play on the atomic level, allowing the xylem to transport water so that in observing it, we can glory in God’s wisdom and creativity.
God governed Roman persecution of the early church so that His people would disperse and spread the gospel to new lands. Ordering the events of history, the gospel mobilised throughout the ages from people to people, from place to place, across desert, forest and sea, until someone passed the gospel to your grandparents, to your parents and then to you. God wants us to look back at His unfathomable wisdom, goodness and mercy and praise Him for it.
And so, our ordinary eating and drinking and going out and studying, and the not-so-ordinary car accident, conflict, passing of a loved one, natural disaster are all actively and purposefully governed by God in His providence. Why? So that through these things, we would be further sanctified, and further made holy to treasure and love Him even more.
Do you trust this God?
This kind of God is not cruel. He is loving. In fact, this is the kind of God we’ve been searching for. This is the God who is all-knowing and all-powerful, yet all-caring at the same time. He fits the longings of our heart for security, rest, and stability in a tiresome and gruesome world. And of course He does! Because He’s the one that created our hearts.
There’s only one question left. Do we want to trust this God? Trusting in this God means surrendering the good, evil, easy, hard, desirable, and undesirable things in our lives to Him for Him to govern and rule over it all according to His own will — which ultimately is in our best interest.
Are we willing to surrender our past, present and future under His providence? If so, God will be our ruler and comfort so that both in times of prosperity and trouble we can cry as David did,
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! (Psalm 57:1-3)
Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation-Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.
Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.