Recently, a Reformed brother told me that he was nearly driven by depression to suicide due to years of wrongful, incessant attacks upon him and his wife by other family members teaming up with the government. He confessed if he was an Arminian he likely would have succumbed, but his belief in God’s providence caused him to persevere and survive. If there were no purpose behind and within enduring something, such a notion could cause us to throw our hands up lamenting, “What’s the point?”
A trust that God has provided, is providing, and will provide for the good of those who love Him in and through all things while walking by faith and not by sight is a Christian’s life support.
The Westminster Confession of Faith 5:7 counsels, As the providence of God doth in general reach to all creatures, so after a most special manner it taketh care of His Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.
Years ago in Pittsburgh, a retired minister speaking at an Alliance Reformation Society event shared the sad story of a fellow Navy pilot perishing, unable to land his plane back on their ship’s runway during training maneuvers. Later at his funeral, another airman sought to console the bereaved mother by insisting, “This was all just a freak accident.” But she kindly corrected him, saying: “Please don’t take away my comfort. Trusting God’s providence comforts me.”
God’s providence is His working out His predestined plan—or as Thomas Watson put it, it is His ordering what He ordained. Thus, the Westminster Confession of Faith 3:8 says that the doctrine God’s eternal decree or “predestination”, is “to be handled … with special prudence and care”, that is, given special attention because it leads to “praise and reverence and admiration of God,” giving Christians “certainty” and assurance.
Allow me to share a number of other nuggets on providence by the incredibly quotable Thomas Watson that greatly blessed our church during a recent class on chapters 3 to 5 of the Westminster Confession:
“ … [God] will not be tied to a place, to a time, or to an instrument … he will work by improbabilities, he will save in such a way as we think would destroy.”
“The wisdom of God wonderfully appears in the works of his providence.”
Take comfort in difficult or bitter providences, for, “When God shakes the tree of the body, he is gathering the fruits of righteousness … God is most in his way, when we think he is most out of the way … Thou art week in estate, but God will make thee strong in assurance.”
“Providence is a Christian’s diary, but not his Bible … We must not think the better of what is sinful, because it is successful. This is no rule for our actions to be directed by.”
“The providence of God infuses comfort and virtue into everything we enjoy … Learn quietly to submit to divine providence. Do not murmur at things that are ordered by divine wisdom … though we may not be silent under God’s dishonour, yet we should learn to be silent under his displeasure … The providences of God are sometimes dark, and our eyes dim, and we can hardly tell what to make of them; but when we cannot unriddle providence, let us believe that it will work together for the good of the elect … affliction in itself is not joyous, but grievous; but the Lord turns it to the good of his saints.”
“God’s providence reaches in a more special manner to his church … God works sometimes by contraries. He raises his church by bringing it low.”
“The church is the apple of God’s eye, and the eyelid of his providence daily covers and defends it … Now we scarce know what to make of God's providence, and are ready to censure what we do not understand; but in heaven we shall see how all his providences (sickness, losses, sufferings) contributed to our salvation. Here we see but some dark pieces of God’s providence, and it is impossible to judge of his works by pieces; but when we come to heaven, and see the full body and portrait of his providence drawn out into its lively colours, it will be glorious to behold. Then we shall see how all God’s providences helped to fulfil his promises.”
Christian, believing God’s providence provides the “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding [and] shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
Grant Van Leuven has been feeding the flock at the Puritan Reformed Presbyterian Church in San Diego, CA, since 2010. He also serves the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals as community engagement coordinator as well as assistant editor for MeetthePuritans.org. He and his wife, Fernanda, have six covenant children: Rachel, Olivia, Abraham, Isaac, Gabriel, and Gideon. He earned his M.Div. at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA.
 Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 5:7.
 “God’s decree ordains things that shall fall out, God’s providence orders them.” Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1970) , 119.
 This class being referenced can be listened to at https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=11112153332218.
 Watson, 55.
 Ibid, 73-75.
 Ibid, 76.
 Ibid, 123.
 Ibid, 124-5.
 Ibid, 126.
 Ibid, 127.
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