February 18, 2022
Author: Andrea Maher
I have often thought how difficult life would be if I didn’t believe in God. I’m always wondering how non-believers navigate the many ups and downs of living in a fallen world. It must cause continual inner turmoil, instability, and a weighted backpack of daily fear.
For us believers, the dilemma is our proper understanding of God’s divine providence. How many times do we hear how God is “sooo good,” especially after a trying situation is resolved to a happy ending? But when things bottom out, or the ending resembles nothing of what we prayed for, the response becomes: Where are you God and why would You allow this to happen to me?
No judgment here.
I am speaking from first-hand experience as I have said those words numerous times. I am reminded of that fact every night when I go into my bedroom and see the stars shining through the window. The view immediately brings me back to the endless nights that I looked up to the sky with transfixed eyes and a downcast spirit, saying, “My God My God why have You forsaken me.” The problem is that even while I was doing that, deep down, I knew He hadn’t forsaken me, but rather, I was basing my emotional response on “thin theology.” Feelings are not reliable!
Pastor Voddie Baucham recently told the story of being rushed to the hospital after a heart attack. His main cardiologist stated that if he hadn’t arrived at the hospital just when he did, he would have surely died. How wonderful, what divine providence! many exclaimed. Voddie disagreed.
He said we confuse our outlook of what is divine providence to the level of nothing more than lucky circumstances, meaning–what would have been said if he arrived at the hospital and dropped dead. That’s so unfortunate—surely divine providence doesn’t apply here! Right?
“Thick theology” is to possess a mindset that God is in control of ALL things whether they are good or extremely bad. How they turn out has nothing to do with man. Voddie reiterates that even if things ended badly that God is still good because God’s providence flows from His self-existence. He is not at the behest of humans and He governs all things according to His will. That should give us comfort, hope and reassurance even when the heat is turned up and we are the ones in the oven. “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other” (Deuteronomy 4:39).
Corrie Ten Boom put it this way, “Often I have heard people say, ‘How good God is! We prayed that it would not rain for our church picnic and look at the lovely weather!’ Yes, God is good when He sends good weather. But was God also good when He allowed my sister, Betsie, to starve to death before my eyes in a German concentration camp? I remember telling Betsie that I thought God had forgotten us and she said, ‘He has not forgotten us. Remember what He says in His Word: For the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him.’” Corrie concluded, “May God grant that you never doubt that love regardless of the circumstances.”
When the apostle Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, where he foresaw the “bonds of afflictions” that awaited him, he said, “But none of these things move me” (Acts 20:24). He no longer counted anything from this life dear to him but rather was confident to let God have His way in him. He understood divine providence.
In these days of internal strife, external attacks, a shifting society, sickness, and even death, we need to get back to thick theology and remember who is ultimately in control of everything. In my darkest moments allowing sovereignty aka “divine providence” to become my ‘default mode’ was what brought me comfort when my human understanding failed me. Nothing that happens to us takes God by surprise and ultimately must pass through His scarred hands. There is an afterlife, where our darkest moments will fit into an eternal plan and purpose, that we couldn’t fathom or imagine on this side of heaven. That brings me hope!
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Andrea Maher is the former editor-in-chief of PARENT ABC’S a monthly magazine. Her writings have been featured in local newspapers and parenting publications nationwide. She is the author of LETTERS TO MY SON: Soley a God Story and SLAMMED: Overcoming Tragedy in the Wave of Grief.
She is the executive director of the Be Still Foundation, a ministry that disseminates hope and encouragement to families in crisis. She has been married to her husband John for 45 years and has four children and 10 grandchildren. https://bestillfoundation.org