What is providence, and of what importance is it to counselors? That’s the matter before us.
There are few other doctrines which are more important to the work of counseling. A tragic event in a believer’s life occurs. How will you help him handle it? In large measure by explaining the biblical doctrine of providence.
“Could you explicate?”
Certainly. Christians are not Deists. Deists believe that God made the world and then walked away from it to allow it to function on its own. We believe, in contrast, that God had a plan for everything and everyone, and then stayed around to see that the plan is carried out. That is to say, God is at work in His world today.
“But how does that affect counseling, tragic events, and the like?”
This way: God is always up to something in everything that happens. He planned His work, and He is now working His plan. When something takes place that calls attention to itself—one ought to ask, “I wonder what God is up to?”
“Is He up to something only in tragic or otherwise noteworthy events?”
No. God is at work in everything that happens. But it’s often in noteworthy events that people begin to ask questions about where God is and whether or not things are out of His control (take a look at the Psalms, for instance).
“OK. But what should the fact of His providential working mean to us?”
Simply this—God is not only up to something’ He’s up to something good!
“How do you know that?”
He told us so.
All things work together for good to those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose.
That truth is the believer’s warrant for saying that
- God is in his problem
- God is at work in his problem
- God is up to something good in his problem.
It’s great that Christian counselors have such a wonderful promise to bring to the counseling table!
“Is it possible to find out what God’s up to?”
Generally, yes; specifically, not always; comprehensibly, never.
Gladly. We know that it’s something to help us grow when we handle the event His way. In Romans 8: 29, He makes it clear that such things are sent to make us more like Christ. We can know that generally. Specifically—exactly how this is so—may or may not be apparent immediately (or perhaps ever—until eternity). Finally, because all that happens in one event affects so many others, we’ll never know comprehensively all God is doing. All things works together to accomplish many things. In God’s providence, what happened to Joseph affected not only him, but the entire nation of Israel (and Egypt, for that matter).
“So, you are able, then, to bring the truth of God’s providence—that He is up to something (working out His infinitely good plan) for good—to reassure believers who are in trouble.”
You’ve got it!