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 FIVE OF NINE
In the previous post we saw that God in His sovereignty caused Genghis Kahn and the generation that followed him to conquer one fourth of the world’s population, forming the largest nation-state in human history…and then God destroyed it by using fleas. Today we’re looking briefly at ways God’s providence affects us directly in our personal lives.
1. Health and physical disabilities
Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? (Exodus 4:11)
Have you or your loved ones faced health or disability challenges? Clearly, God is in control of every part of our bodies and how they function.
2. Financial and social standing
The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. (1 Samuel 2:7)
Many people live to some degree in constant fear or worry over their material prosperity, their position in society, or both. But we see here that God alone ultimately determines our level of wealth or poverty.
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)
I also withheld the rain from you when there was yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither. (Amos 4:7)
The plain and most important meaning of these passages speaks specifically to weather conditions. That said, there is value and biblical legitimacy in understanding weather as a metaphor for other aspects of life that can seem random but are in fact subject to God’s will. That is, we all experience the blessings of good weather and the trials of bad weather, literal or otherwise. Yet our God is in sovereign control over all of it, in every place, all the time.
4. The motives and actions of other people
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. (Proverbs 21:1)
But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. (2 Corinthians 8:16)
Whether a great king or an ordinary individual, God is sovereign over the motives and actions of all people. Nothing can happen to us outside of His control. Whether we’re considering matters of health, wealth, weather, or anything else, God remains in sovereign control of every aspect of our lives.
In our fallen world, each of the areas we have discussed can obviously be sources of much trial and sorrow, and I don’t mean to minimize the challenges we can face. But in and through it all, God offers the comfort of knowing that it is He who has brought these things into our lives, and it is He who is working them all together for good, for His purposes (Romans 8:28), in the context of His divine plan to glorify himself through Christ, ultimately uniting all things in His Son (Ephesians 1:10).
I realize that God’s sovereignty over our so-called “free will” is a difficult subject for most people. The next blog post will begin to address this issue.
This has been Part 5 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.