The Providential Will of God

calvary roadGod’s will is made known in His providences… These words are found in Roy Hession’s The Calvary Road, a book my husband and I are studying with a care group we recently joined. The first time I read them (and the second, for that matter) I didn’t give them much thought. Then one of the men in our group made a comment about all the regrets in his life and our leader, Joe, directed us to those words once again. “What do they mean?”

According to, providence means the following:

  1. The foreseeing care and guidance of God…
  2. God, especially conceived as omnisciently directing the universe and the affairs of humankind with wise benevolence.
  3. Manifestation of divine care or direction
  4. Foresight; provident care.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my handy-dandy computer available to spout off an answer. Instead, most of us in the room mumbled suggestions and shrugged. It’s fairly easy to get the gist of the meaning, but to articulate it is a whole other matter. My answer was omniscience which wasn’t entirely off—just short-sighted.

Why did Joe want us to understand these words in light of one man’s utterance of regrets? Maybe because we all have them. I don’t imagine there’s a person alive who doesn’t look back with 20/20 hindsight and wonder what if…? But that’s why understanding God’s providence is key to our peace and joy. Because He knew that we’d make mistakes we might later regret—and He uses those mistakes to place us where we are today.

And it isn’t just about mistakes we’ve made, but those things that have happened to us that are often so difficult to get past—whether it’s rejection, abuse, neglect, abandonment or a hundred other things I could list. It’s not what we’ve done, or what’s been done to us—it’s how we react to those things. Do we wallow in self-pity or use it for God’s glory? I can tell you right now that if I didn’t have deep hurts in my past, I would have nothing from which to draw when writing an emotional scene for my characters. Nor would I know how to comfort someone else who’s dealing with emotional pain.

Do I sometimes wish I’d made different choices in my life? You bet. But God used those choices make me who I am today. However, He can only do so much. That may sound sacrilegious, but He never forces His will on us. Whether we’re stiff-necked (a term Roy Hession uses) or bend to His will, the choice is ours. And I know from experience that life, when aligned with God’s will, is so much sweeter for the mistakes I’ve made and the hurts I’ve felt.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 expounds on how we’re to use the hurts of our past to glorify Jesus. For without them, we would be of no use to others. That’s the providential will of God.

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