Our Lord’s Merciful Purposes
Updated: Oct 8, 2022
There is no doubt that much of what characterizes our lives is the frustrations of ordinary life and how to cope with them. For the most part a large percentage of our daily challenges are unplanned, unexpected, also very frustrating, and sometimes very painful. Before we can do many other things in life, we need the coping skill of patience. Is it then possible to be patient with all the unexpected, hurtful, confusing and frustrating things that come into our lives?
So, I come once again to God’s providence. Now I know for many people this is an abstract concept.
Isaiah 55:3 “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”
If we think deeply about this, we go toward the fact that God the Father is so far above us in kind and category we cannot even see the top from where we stand. It is like trying to see a speck on Mt Everest from where we stand. Consider for a moment the vast complexity of creation and all that has transpired seen and unseen God knows it all and all the web of interrelated cause and effects that He has woven into a grand tapestry try as we might as depraved sinners to destroy it.
We are talking about the providence of God in his creation, the meticulous providence which means every little thing he is involved in. Not evil or sin only in respect to divert it or talk someone down from it. Perhaps the supreme example of this is Job. The life of Job gives us a glimpse of some of the ultimate reality in which we live. It is but a glimpse. God’s creation and how it all works, its so-called economy is just beyond our cognitive ability to understand.
But then what of God’s merciful purposes?
What God shows us through the lives of people like Job is that over and over he is merciful. That is a fact. Things that are in front of us are not what they seem. God is the Grand Weaver and he is always weaving something wise out of the painful, tangled threads of our lives. Now we must as Christians through Christ and the Holy Spirit internalize that so much that we are not destroyed when adversity comes, and it will come.
Genesis 50:20 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
In our lives Satan, people and circumstances work against us. We see through a glass darkly and yes all too often have a hard time understanding Romans 8:28.
Romans 8:28 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
The oft told story of Benjamin Warfield illustrates this perfectly. Warfield was a theologian who taught at Princeton Seminary for 34 years until his death in 1921. His famous book “The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible” is still read and respected. In 1876, at the age of 25, he married Annie Pearce Kinkead, their honeymoon was in Germany. It was there during a storm, Annie was struck by lightning and permanently paralyzed. Warfield cared for her patiently for 39 years and then laid her to rest in 1915. God did not restore Warfield’s life as He did for Job instead his wife was welcomed into the arms of Jesus. Warfield almost never left his home for more than two hours at a time for 39 years due to Annie’s needs. Warfield eventually wrote his thoughts on Romans 8:28:
“The fundamental thought is the universal government of God, providence. All that comes to you is under his controlling hand. The secondary thought is the favor of God to those that love him. If he governs all, then nothing but good can befall those to whom he would do good. . .. He will so govern all things that we shall reap only good from all that befalls us. (Faith and Life, 204)”
Does God’s Holy Word give us answers to the Problem of Evil as we moderns like to call it? No! If we look there are so many examples of Christians all the way from Paul through Bonhoeffer and there are many more of the amazing power to be patient and faithful through the most inexplicable and cruel circumstances of life. God grants us his merciful purposes through prayer, relationship, confession, repentance as we head ever so faithfully down the narrow road.
John 16:33 These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.