Sometimes it seems as if our culture is obsessed with control. We control the temperatures in our home to the very degree, and now many of us can even do that from our smartphones. We control our schedules while using daily planners or apps. We even control our time with God, giving Him five minutes in the morning or fifteen minutes at lunch. We seek to control our health, environment and even, at times, those around us.
Our desire to keep things “under control” helps to improve a number of things in our lives and surroundings. But it can also hinder us from living in the spirit of surrender that a life under God’s overarching control requires.
Admittedly, not everyone feels the need to control all things at all times. Some people are more flexible than others. But within most of us is a desire to, at least, control the important areas of our lives such as health, safety and provision. This stems from our need for security as human beings.
Providence references how God controls the spinning wheel of history behind the scenes. It is actually a subset of sovereignty. In other words, one way God achieves His sovereignty is by His providence. The providence of God is the miraculous and mysterious ways in which He intersects and interconnects things in order to bring about His sovereignty.
God’s sovereignty is what He wants to happen. God’s providence is where He sets things up and connects them so that His sovereignty does happen.
Where we often misunderstand things is in the area of providence. This is because without a full awareness of where things are headed (sovereignty), we might wonder about the providential choices of God along the way. There are times when God will even cause, or allow, things to happen that seemingly appear to be in contradiction to what He wants.
For God to achieve His ultimate sovereign purposes, He will at times providentially allow things to take place that are outside of His preferences. This is because in His sovereignty, God will allow things He does not prefer in order to accomplish His ultimate plan. It is only when you understand the link between providence and sovereignty that you will become conscious of God’s fingerprints in the midst of His “apparent” absence. He will often only leave behind fingerprints that show up when dusted.
We don’t always get to see how God weaves and twists and tweaks things to take us to our intended destination and purpose. He operates behind the scenes, pulling the strings and setting the stage in ways that sometimes confuse, frustrate and confound us. But also in ways that produce the greatest outcome and result.