Accidents or Providence?

Providence captures well the confident optimism that followers of Jesus enjoy regarding their future. The Bible tells us that each one of the hairs on our head is numbered (Matthew 10:30). Each one. God has that kind of power and uses it lovingly to care for his own children. Nothing can harm or help us except that which has been orchestrated by an all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving Heavenly Father. 

Looking back we can sometimes detect the kind providence of God in our own lives. Certain things that perhaps at the time felt pointless can later serve as evidence pointing to His faithfulness. God never wastes experiences on us.

When I look back on my own life, I can remember taking an Organic Chemistry course in college. It seemed like such a drain on my time and energy. One of those weed out classes I’d never use again. I even had to buy a book that wasn’t on the syllabus to make sense of the way the elements interacted with one another. The book was entitled, Organic Chemistry as a Second Language. It wasn’t until I got to seminary and had to take Greek and Hebrew that I realized I’d done this sort of thing before and understood why.

Another such example struck me from the life of Ulysses S. Grant. (Read yesterday’s initial post on Grant here). Not soon after graduating from West Point, the U.S. Army began engaging in what would later become known as the Mexican-American War.* As the conflict intensified, Grant’s unsought and unwanted assignment became that of regimental quartermaster. This job involved providing the troops with necessary supplies like clothing, extra rifles, horses, etc., along with transporting equipment like tents and cooking equipment on wagons, carts, mules, or whatever he could find. This sounds awful to me now, and it did to Grant then.

During this time, Grant still found ways to make it to the front lines and proved to be a man of valor. He didn’t want his quartermaster role, he wanted to fight. But his experiences both on the front lines and behind the scenes later proved invaluable. He would’ve never guessed at that time he would one day lead the entire U.S. Army. And he never would’ve guessed that he would be glad he was once a quartermaster.

Grant’s rise was not meteoric by any stretch. After serving in the Mexican-American War, he went on to serve on the Pacific Coast in an obscure location. He later quit the military altogether. He was a man not many people thought would amount to much. But once the Civil War ensued it became apparent that his previous experiences served a purpose. The rest, as they say, is history.

It is impossible for us to see in the moment all that God is accomplishing in our lives. Not many of us will be groomed to become generals or presidents. But if you are trusting in Jesus as your Savior, the Bible tells us that God is preparing us for roles even weightier than these. When He returns it will all make sense.

Our aim should be to hear these words from Jesus, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”

Until that day, will we trust that the experiences God has given us in this life, whether in organic chemistry or the military, are not accidents but providence?

*Special thanks to Daryl Colyer for catching my mistake of putting the Spanish-American War in the original post.

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