A biblical handling of the emotions is foundational for spiritual maturity. One of the anchors we need to deploy daily to keep us stabilized emotionally is God’s providence.

God’s providence is his ruling over the details of all activity, human and inhuman, so as to bring about his good purposes. The providence of God is all over the pages of Scripture, but perhaps it’s most clearly seen in the book of Esther. I don’t have time to tell the story now, but suffice it to say that a lot of things had to go exactly right for the story to turn out the way it did.

If Xerxes never throws a party and gets roaring drunk, he never makes the request for Vashti to come and show off her beauty. If Vashti is never requested, she never refuses the request. If she doesn’t refuse the request, there’s no beauty contest to determine who takes her place. If there’s no beauty contest Esther never becomes queen. If Esther never becomes queen, Haman’s decree goes forward and the Jews are annihilated. If Esther doesn’t keep secret her nationality of being a Jew, Haman is never removed from his post. If Haman is never removed from his post, Mordecai is killed. If Mordecai is killed, he never becomes a lieutenant in the Persian government. The Jewish people are spared because all of these details fell into place.

Even if you aren’t familiar with the story, you can see a lot has to go right right in order for this story to turn out OK. This is the providence of God. It’s his ruling over the details of all activity, human and inhuman, so as to bring about his good purposes. 

Outside of Scripture, no one has written more vividly on this subject than John Calvin.

“When dense clouds darken the sky, and a violent tempest arises, because a gloomy mist is cast over our eyes, thunder strikes our ears and all our senses are benumbed with fright, everything seems to us to be confused and mixed up; but all the while a constant quiet and serenity ever remain in heaven. So must we infer that, while the disturbances in the world deprive us of judgment [the causes may be hidden from us], God out of the pure light of his justice and wisdom tempers and directs these very movements in the best conceived order to a right end.”

This is God’s providence. A little later in the same section, Calvin says this about God’s providence:

“Gratitude of mind for the favorable outcome of things, patience in adversity, and also incredible freedom from worry about the future all necessarily follow upon this knowledge”

One of the reasons you get angry, one of the reasons you’re bitter, stressed out, or worried is that you don’t really believe this. At least in the moment you experience anger, bitterness, stress, or worry, you aren’t believing in God’s providence. One of the reasons you don’t have joy and peace is because on some level you don’t really believe this. God’s providence is an anchor to deploy daily. Because when you do whatever storm darkens your sky, you will be able to say, “God is in this. He controls this. And will bring about his good purposes in and through it.”

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