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What is "Providence" and Why Does it Matter?

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"Providence" is a marvelous word. The problem is that no one really knows what it means and why it matters.

Sometimes people use the term "providence" to mean God Himself.

For example, when George Washington experienced God’s protection during General Braddock’s defeat at the Battle of the Monongahela (near modern-day Pittsburgh) in 1755 he wrote to his brother, John A. Washington:

But by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me.

-July 18, 1755


(Notice how he refers to God Himself as "Providence" with a capital "P".) There are other ways people use the term as a generic junk drawer term for "God doing something good" or "God's protection".

What does "providence" really mean and why does it matter?

It is a combination of two Latin words. The word pro means "before" and the word vide means "see". In other words, we have a God that "sees before". He sees the end from the beginning. He knows what we are walking into before we even before we know that it is something to be walked into! He sees and knows where we will be and what we are going to be doing before we do. He knows the trials that await and the joys that await before we can even see them.

Because of His providence, He cannot overlook anything in His creation. Note Ps. 139:7–12:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

In His omnipresence, He cannot ever overlook or miss anything. It is not just that He knows, but that His character and nature mean it matters when He acts. He can meet all our needs and assuage all our fears in whatever we walkthrough. 

Nothing is done outside of His providence. He sees it before it happens.

Since He knows and sees, let's ask Him to help us trust Him more as we walk into the mystery of whatever we might walk through next.

"See" you Sunday.