God’s Providence – the cure for our existential angst
God’s Providence – the cure for our existential angst

God’s Providence – the cure for our existential angst

God’s providence in simple terms means God’s purposeful sovereignty . It refers to how God orders life and existence according to his determinate will and counsel.

While the scriptures affirm human freedom and its potential consequences, it does not deny God’s purposeful rule despite this. Therefore, despite human freedom, God is directly involved with the universe ordering it towards his determined end.

Many times, there is a self-deterministic undertone even in Christian circles that makes us ignore the fact that God has not ceded his providence to us, he still reigns in the affairs of men. And yes, he does supremely.

Providence, not fatalism or determinism

In a bid to not commit the error of self-determinism – that only our actions determine what happens. One may fall into another wrong extreme which is fatalism. This is simply the belief that whatever will be, will be. This extreme fails to acknowledge the fact that the scriptures teach an interplay between providence and human freedom for the causation of events.

While the scripture shows that God does act in our world, it also teaches that human actions have consequences on the chain of events and happenings.

Also, providence is not unilateral determinism i.e God determines all that happens even to the extent of determining our choices. On this view, man is therefore not truly free. One of the main problems with this, however, is that scriptures teach that man is responsible for his choices and reprehensible when he makes the wrong ones. Ultimately, the coherence of this view is impossible in light of all biblical evidence about human actions.

Next, I will move on to discuss the root of our angst and how providence cures our existential angst and grants us peace in life’s billows.

Why do we fret?

At the root of our angst is the desire to have it all figured out. Uncertainty stresses the human brain. Our inability to have all specifics figured out with absolute certainty thus unveils our limitedness. And that itself is stressful for the average person. The fact that I can’t say for sure what the next series of events will be, and even worse I may not be able to cause these happenings to achieve my desired outcome. So, this limitedness is in two folds, it’s both cognitive and potential i.e we are limited in our ‘knowing’ and our ‘causative ability’. This then sets up a cascade of events, both physiological and psychological that leads to anxiety.

At the root of our angst is the desire to have it all figured out. Our inability to have all specifics figured out with certainty unveils our limitedness. This sets up a cascade of psychological events that lead to anxiety. Click To Tweet

Another dimension of why we worry is in our anticipation of future needs. i.e the thought of things that are not yet needs can cause us to swing into anxiety. This is just another expression of our aversion to uncertainty. Knowing that anticipated needs will be met absolutely confers a sense of security that uncertainty leaves vague.

God’s Answer

God invites us to a different perspective in light of his providence. He wants us to live every day by faith. He never wired us to be self-sufficient beings. But faith must have an anchor. This is how God’s providence changes the narrative.

Firstly, God invites us to a life where our limitedness as described above gears us towards TRUST. The need to have uncertainty and our inability to cause that to happen independently should make us lean towards God. God is cognitively infinite and not limited in his causative ability.

He would have us be men who would turn the drive for anxiety to the drive for prayer and patient trust with thanksgiving. God’s providence changes the story. The believer can have peace in the face of uncertainty.
If God is not limited as we are and desires our good, then, we can be confident that we are in safe hands.

God invites us to a life where our limitedness as described above gears us towards TRUST. He would have us be men who would turn the drive for anxiety to the drive for prayer and patient trust with thanksgiving. Click To Tweet

Furthermore, God’s providence is a safeguard. It ensures that the believer’s lot is preserved and secured. If God can providentially order the course of events to achieve a thing then the believer is safe, because God is committed to him and his integrity is pristine.

This is God’s invite, that we revel in the fact of his providence. That our fears are allayed by the understanding that he knows and will do. The heart that knows this is also persuaded that God is never limited in his ability to achieve his desired end.

This is God’s invite, that we revel in his providence. That our fears are allayed by the understanding that he knows and will do. Be persuaded that God is never limited in his ability to achieve his desired end in your life. Click To Tweet

A classical example is the story of Joseph. Despite human actions – Joseph’s naivety in divulging the visions and his brother’s wickedness, God’s end was achieved. Even Potiphar’s mistress scandal fit right into its place in the grand scheme of things. Joseph realised this and says to Jacob “And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on the earth …”. This is not to be thought of in light of determinism, for God does not tempt any with evil. Rather, it is that despite human actions and inactions, God providentially ordered the course of events to achieve his will. What a relief that brings to the soul in angst!

I implore you to turn the drive for fretting into a challenge to trust. Knowing that God is not in any way limited.

NB:
This is not a call to irresponsibility (as in fatalism) but an invitation to trust. It’s an invitation to live unperturbed when the pieces don’t yet add up.

References

  • Providence, 2021. https://www.desiringgod.org/books/providence.
Micheal is an Occupational Therapist in training. Committed to the gospel of Christ, passionate about the integration of Christian theism and science
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