by Jerry Bridges /
Read all the posts published to date in this 9-part series on God’s Providence from Cruciform’s good friend, the late Jerry Bridges. This was a teaching Jerry was presenting in the months leading up to his fatal heart attack in March, 2016.
GOD’S PROVIDENCE, PART TWO OF NINE
Before we get further into this subject, it’s important to know the difference between the providence of God and a miracle of God. A miracle is God’s working outside of His creation laws. Providence is God’s working through His creation laws.
Example: Wine is produced from grapes going through a natural process (fermentation) that was designed by God and is controlled by God. It is a part of God’s providence. By contrast, Jesus turning water into wine was outside of God’s ordinary process; it was supernatural. It was a miracle.
Sometimes we observe an unusual act of God’s providence and we mistakenly call it a miracle.
Example: The metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly is a fascinating process. But it is not a miracle. From the very beginning of creation, God designed the butterfly to morph from a caterpillar. That metamorphosis is an expression of God’s providence.
In Matthew 17:27, when Peter cast a hook into the sea and caught a fish with a shekel in its mouth to pay the tax, was it a miracle or an act of God’s providence? It could be either. If God materialized a shekel out of nothing and placed it in the fish’s mouth, then it was a miracle. But what if someone dropped a shekel into the water, and a fish grabs it thinking it is food, but it’s too large to swallow and gets stuck in its mouth? If it happened to be swimming right where Peter casts the hook, then God was guiding the entire process and we’d be correct in calling it an act of God’s providence.
God’s miracles are rare (and still fully subject to God’s Providence). During Biblical times they occurred mostly in the era of Moses and the prophets Elijah and Elisha, and again centuries later in the time of Jesus and the apostles. Do they occur today? The Bible doesn’t speak to that and I won’t either. Instead, my goal is to arouse your awareness of God’s providential actions in your life, and in the whole world, so that you can better handle the difficulties, pain, and suffering in a way that honors God.
As we will see in the next blog post, the providence of God, while not miraculous, is nevertheless mysterious.
Our various titles related to suffering.
This has been Part 2 of a 9-part series on God’s providence from Jerry Bridges.
Jerry Bridges (1929-2016) was the author of Who Am I? — Identity in Christ, as well as numerous other books, including The Pursuit of Holiness (which has sold more than 1.4 million copies), and the award-winning The Discipline of Grace and I Will Follow You, O God. He maintained an international speaking ministry and, from 1955 until his death, served in a variety of capacities with the Navigators.