top of page
  • Writer's pictureScott Carr, Jr.

How is God Provident?

Vito Baldini, pastor of Mercy Ministries at Liberti Center City and Main Line, says regarding providence, “Situations of human suffering and injustice are very complicated and to think that God is somehow in control when the world is out of control is a very challenging thing. When suffering and evil in the world are very prolific, it seems like the world has no order to it. I’ve always looked at sin from the theological standpoint as an intruder in God’s world. The fracturing of shalom is the Fall. Evil is the part of the world that God is not responsible for, but it’s here and God is not out of control. He has moved forward to redeem it through Christ. In a timeless God, time is not linear. God has already acted in Christ and is restoring the world. In time, His work is His providence. He is fixing the world. Evil is not outside of God’s control, but He did not cause them. Those things are not part of God’s plan in the end. The new creation is His plan. But when I pastor someone, I don’t ever get into the why’s. You’re really there to embody grace. A lot of time in suffering, that just means entering in and listening to them. When you can do that without trying to explain providence, you suffer with others as Christ has entered into our suffering.”

Alisha Carr, a college student at Rowan University, says, “It is difficult for me to understand God’s providence because, from personal experience, I have ongoing ear issues with an identical twin sister who does not have those same issues. Why did God let this happen to me and not to my identical twin sister too? What helps me is the promise in Romans 8:28 (NRSV): ‘We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.’”

The subject of providence is important to the church’s ministry because, in the face of suffering, the faith of many individuals reaches a crisis on the subject of providence. To guide individuals through suffering with faith requires an understanding of providence. Scripture’s clearest reflection on God's providence is Romans 8:28, previously quoted. A more complex portrayal of providence is found in the book of Job. The story begins with an account of the angels presenting themselves before God. Satan tells God that, if he suffered enough, the righteous Job will turn on God. God grants Satan permission to send various trials Job’s way. For many chapters, Job and his friends try to understand why God would allow his suffering. It is not until chapter 38 that God replies to Job. He never explains why He allowed such suffering, but, “where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” [1] He reveals Himself as the powerful Creator of all. The second person of this same Trinitarian Creator God later came to earth to suffer on behalf of humanity.

Calvin emphasizes that providence means God is not a passive observer, but is involved and “governs all events” [2]. Barth holds in tension the truth that God is free to act in the world, but humans are also free to make choices whether those are righteous actions or cause suffering [3]. The Catechism of the Catholic Church confesses that God’s providence acts to address the evil created by human choices [4]. God’s providence respects human freedom, but actively works to address the resulting evils in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

[1] Job 38:11

[2] Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Edited by John T. MacNeill. Translated by Ford Lewis Battles. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1961, 1.16.4

[3] Barth, Karl. Dogmatics in Outline. New York: Harper and Row, 1959, p. 55.

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church. Liguori, MI: Liguori Publications, 1994, p. 82.

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Publication Announcement: An Invitation to Lent

Lent is just around the corner! (Starting February 14th, this year!) If you are thinking about how you will practice Lent or have never engaged this season, I have a new publication to help you get st

bottom of page