God doesn’t waste any time. Let me clarify: God doesn’t waste any time. By that I mean that God, at every point in history, is always absolutely purposeful in all of His actions. Nothing which we have experienced this year has been outside the scope of God’s gracious providence. I need no other verse than Ephesians 1:11 to clearly substantiate that amazing truth. When we speak of the providence of God, we’re including everything that makes up His purposeful sovereignty in the world – and every dimension of His purposeful sovereignty in each one of our lives. We can trust Him. I’m not just reminding you of that, but I’m reminding myself of that as 2020 grinds to a screeching halt. Lord willing, the year that many have been trying for months to kick to the curb will soon be in our rearview mirror.
But make no mistake about it: 2020 was no accident. We needed 2020, in about a million different ways, or it would never have happened. God is in absolute control of 2020, and God is in absolute control of all of the fallout from it.
God’s providence is His universal power over every single design and detail – both large and small – which is worked through natural and material things. All of the causes, along with all of the resulting effects, fall under the larger umbrella of: “This is my Father’s world.” God’s own Word explains for us the providence behind His actions, even when we can’t fully understand or interpret some of those actions. It is through God’s Word that you and I begin to grasp the truth: the vast powers which we see in nature, and in history, are not just random and obscure forces – but they are intentional instruments of our Creator’s personal government. That’s why we call the doctrine divine providence. Isaiah was quite right: the government really rests upon Christ’s shoulders!
So you and I must affirm that God directly intervenes in every natural and historical disaster, pandemic or otherwise. This might seem like a frightening notion at first – and on a healthy level it is – but that simple affirmation is also a source of great comfort for us. When we are trusting in a sovereign God, we can find meaning and purpose in occurrences that would otherwise seem like senselessness on steroids.
Next year will bring us its share of both joy and sorrow, and each moment will be part of God’s gracious plan to do us nothing but good. The perfect mixture of sunshine and rain will come our way, and the glory of God – as always – will serve as the perfect backdrop for what we perceive to be the highs and lows of a calendar year. All of it, perfectly timed. And nothing coming to us that isn’t sifted through the fingers of the God who holds us in His hand, and who loves us more deeply than we ever imagined! And, when those times of suffering come our way, we’ll choose to remember that we’ve been claimed by a Jesus for whom suffering is no alien experience. So we will pour out our hearts before His throne of grace, knowing that He hears every longing of our souls, that He felt the sting of that moment long before we, and that no tear will be wasted in the good providence of God.
I think it’s important that we also recognize that a deep knowledge of God’s providence is much more than a simple acceptance of the things which come our way. You and I can smile at the future, and in a strong sense embrace it with gusto, because we know to whom it belongs. Our Savior is immutable – changeless – and He is a solid Rock for us when nothing else seems stable or certain at all. Do we know what the new year will bring? Not at all. But we know who does. And that is enough. Tomorrow, here on earth, isn’t promised to any of us. But we can embrace tomorrow in the sense that we – left here to finish our task, or with the Lord forever – are in the best of care. I wouldn’t trade “in Christ” for every bank account on earth, would you? No sparrow falls without His knowledge. No ocean roars without His consent. No cross is taken up by any one of us which is not for our good and His glory.
And God is in absolute control of 2021. So, friends, Happy New Year! The tomb is still empty! Together we walk into an uncertain future, but, not really. Because we know, and are loved by, the One who holds every tomorrow in His hands. So sleep well tonight, and fear not tomorrow. Our great God is already there.
With you, trusting Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,