Many of us deal with discouragement and depression during this season of the year. Some of us deal with deeply flawed marriages, unbelieving children, less than fulfilling careers, singleness, childlessness, broken dreams/relationships, and/or being falsely accused of something we didn’t say or do.
One key attribute of God that helps us face these dark days is God’s providence. The Westminster Catechism states that God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions. J.I. Packer defines providence like this: “God’s purposive, personal management with total ‘hands-on’ control of His entire universe. God is completely in charge of his world.”
King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2-4 had to go through some very dark days due to his pride and rebellion against God. Listen to his testimony in Daniel 4:34-35
At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,
for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”
However, many persist in adhering to the thoughts of someone like Oscar Wilde who wrote: “There is enough misery and suffering in one city block of London to make me disbelieve in the providence of God.”
BB Warfield, the great Princeton theologian, was married to his sweetheart Annie Kinkad in 1876. They went on their honeymoon to Switzerland. Annie was struck by lightening and was an invalid the rest of her life. For thirty-nine years Dr. Warfield served his wife. He never went more than two hours away from home. He turned down many leadership appointments in his denomination in order to care for her. Listen to what He wrote in a devotional booklet on Romans 8:28 — “God will so govern all things that we shall reap only good from what befalls us.” WOW. What a comforting thought to know that in the end we shall reap only good from whatever befalls us. This is the faith response of a heart that is willing to trust all into the hands of a good, perfect, loving, faithful, and providential heavenly Father.
Every providence of our faithful God facilitates our spiritual good… freeing us from sin, bring us nearer to God, weaning us from the world, and fitting us for heaven.
Martin Lloyd-Jones offer this pastoral exhortation: “Do you know that God is over-ruling everything in the whole cosmos for your good? You cannot know it and be depressed at the same time; for such knowledge and depression are mutually exclusive.“