Posted in theology

Providence vs. Miracles

By Elizabeth Prata

Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

I’ve mentioned Providence to readers before and how I love that doctrine. I’m absolutely fascinated with and delight in His providence. Phil Johnson said in the Wretched series, Drive By Pneumatology, ‘that seeking after miracles or the miracle gifts is demonstrating weak faith, because of Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”’

We hear so often today, “Expect a miracle!” Why? Why expect a miracle? Does my faith need one, like an exclamation mark of the daily enactment of my faith? Am I putting God to the test by expecting Him to perform for me? Is my faith by sight or by faith, anyway?

It diminishes the magisterial sovereignty of God to water down the true miracle by saying, “I have had a knot in this shoelace for two weeks, and I finally got it untied. It’s a miracle!” No it’s not.

Many people have had this happen- including me- I receive a check in the mail from an unknown or unexpected source that is the exact amount I’d needed in order to prevent a dire thing from coming to pass. People say, ‘It was a miracle!’ No, it wasn’t – it was the Providential working of God in our lives of the faithful for the good of those who love Him.

Providence is when God works through normal, ordinary means, orchestrating events by His providence in order to answer my prayer. Normal ordinary means, a real, live check, via the normal mail.

Miracles are supernatural events that suspend or set aside the natural laws. A handful of flour that is refilled in a bowl every night and makes 1500 loaves. The sea parting and drying up. Rods that become snakes or blossom and bear fruit overnight. Coming back alive from the dead after 4 days and decomposition had set in.

I believe Providence is the greater miracle, or at least catalyzes my wonder to an incredible degree. My sovereign God whose intellect is so high my brain hurts just to think of it (He named each of the trillions of stars!!!) this God orchestrates events among 8 billion people so that the exact thing will happen at the exact moment it needs to. And then He does it the next minute, and the next minute, and the next minute, and it is perfect every time.

Take for example something that happened years ago. I was recently moved here and didn’t have a job. I was living on the money that I got from selling my newspaper, but it wasn’t going to last forever. I needed $1,000 dollars. One day, I went to the PO and got an envelope out of the box and it has Maine State Teachers Association on it. I retired from teaching in 1990. I had cleaned out and closed my retirement account at that time. It was now 2007. I hadn’t taught for 17 years and I hadn’t even been living in Maine for more than a year, how did they find me in GA??

I opened it and there was $1,200. They said that the Maine Legislature had changed a Teacher Retirement fund rule and that it turned out they owed me more money. After 17 years and a distance of 1500 miles, a relationship I’d severed long ago, cleaned out and closed my account, and yet the Lord prompted a Legislature, an Administrator, a bank, and an entire mail system to trace me to GA, to arrive in my 5 inch PO box on the day I needed it. That is Providence. And He does this kind of thing every day and in the entire world minute by minute.

Regeneration is a true miracle. Making alive a spiritually dead soul into a live, worshipful soul is a miracle! Only God can do that. My salvation was a wonder and truly from God, and I appreciated it so much. But the minute by minute Providential weaving of His thoughts and His work into my life, every day of my life awakens in me a gratitude and a wonder that I don’t believe miracles really do in the same way.

Providence is an activity of God to know omnisciently what each and every believer on earth needs, and grants it to them at the very moment they need it. And it doesn’t have to be a ‘good thing’. If someone needs a car crash in God’s economy, they will receive that. If someone needs a heart attack for the good of that person in the long run, he will receive it. And God anticipated and orchestrates all the events minute by minute leading up to the moment the person needs the thing.

Miracles scare me. Providence humbles me. Just thinking that He is thinking of me and orchestrated all that to get a check to me, slays me and melts my heart me and makes me cry even to think of it.

Praise the providential working of God in your life, don’t go seeking after miracles. Opening your eyes to your salvation & sanctification. The providential work of God in your life is the TRUE Miracle.

FURTHER READING

Providence is remarkable, sermon by Phil Johnson

What is Providence? Ligonier essay

Author:

Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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