Trust promises, not providences

This is another gem from Piper’s website – perhaps you need this today….

This morning my assistant, Bryan DeWire, found out his father, who 24 hours ago seemed in fine health, didn’t make it through emergency heart surgery. This afternoon, my wife called me in tears to update me on a very difficult day trying to raise and teach 5 young children. Very different, yet real and painful experiences of God’s providential reign in lives of Christians I love.
Also this morning I read this sentence in a pamphlet titled, “Honey Out of the Rock,” by Puritan Thomas Wilcox,

“Judge not Christ’s love by providences, but by promises.”

Experiences are very powerful. They often feel more powerful than promises. So it’s tempting to interpret prosperity and ease as God’s blessing and tribulation as God’s displeasure. And sometimes they are. But often they are not.

Actually, what we see all the way through the Bible is the Lord training his disciples to trust his promises more than providences. Think of Abraham and Sarah waiting for Isaac, or Jacob losing Rachel, or Joseph in slavery and prison, or Job’s suffering, or David running from Saul. Think of Lazarus and the heartbreak of his death and the constant tribulations of Paul. And of course Jesus set the ultimate example by looking to the joy set before him as he endured the cross (Heb 12:2).

Strange, isn’t it? In the Bible pain is often the path to unspeakable joy and prosperity is often an obstacle to it. What’s going on?

Simply, God wants us to treasure what we can’t see more than what we can.

“For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18).

And we find out that it’s pain more than prosperity that makes us look for what our eyes can’t see, and long for a satisfaction that doesn’t exist in this world.

So Thomas Wilcox’s advice is worth heeding. For those of us who are experiencing a bitter providence, Wilcox goes on to say,

Bless God for shaking off false foundations, for any way whereby He keeps the soul awakened and looking after Christ; better sickness and temptations, than security and superficiality.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. susan
    Dec 19, 2007 @ 06:59:09

    thank you for this gem dear friend.



  2. Laurel Esser
    Dec 19, 2007 @ 16:22:04

    Ok so this is on a little scale of what your talking about, but it really is funny timing because the other day my fridge died and we had to buy a new one. (I really don’t like buying new things) Anyways, I was trying to figure out what I had done specifically to make God angry enough to kill my fridge or what He was trying to tell me, I kept thinking, why now! It’s so funny that we always think that God’s angry with us when things don’t get exactly like we want, and don’t realize that sometimes our fridge is simply 20 years old and needs to go. On the other hand, maybe God was trying to tell me to let go of things…I’m really going to miss that fridge.


  3. susan
    Dec 20, 2007 @ 07:23:45

    laurel you are hilarious.

    i really enjoy you! 🙂


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