The Laws of the Divine Providence
Providence is not evident, but man should acknowledge it.
Consider the lilies, how they grow; they do not labor, neither do they spin; but I say to you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. And if God so clothe the grass in the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more shall He clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, and do not be unsettled; for all these things do the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
DP 176. I. IF A MAN PERCEIVED AND FELT THE OPERATION OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE HE WOULD NOT ACT FROM FREEDOM ACCORDING TO REASON; NOR WOULD ANYTHING APPEAR TO HIM TO BE AS FROM HIMSELF. IT WOULD BE THE SAME IF HE FOREKNEW EVENTS.
DP 176:2. ...If a man had a lively perception and feeling of being led he would not be conscious of life, and he would then be moved to utter sounds and to act much like a graven image. If he were still conscious of life he would be led like one bound hand and foot, or like a beast of burden yoked to a cart. Who does not see that a man would then have no freedom? If he had no freedom he would have no reason, for everyone thinks from freedom and in freedom; and whatever he does not think from freedom and in freedom appears to him to be not from himself but from another... and consequently he would not be a man.
DP 177. It is the continual operation of the Divine Providence of the Lord to withdraw man from evils. If anyone were to perceive and feel this continual operation, and yet were not led as one bound, would he not continually struggle against it, and thus either dispute with God, or mingle self with the Divine Providence? If he did the latter he would make himself also God; if the former he would release himself from restraint and deny God....
DP 178. Man is not granted a knowledge of future events, also for the reason that he may be able to act from freedom according to reason.... If he knew the effect or result from Divine prediction, his reason would come to rest, and with it his love; for love with reason comes to an end in the effect, and from that point it begins anew. It is the very delight of reason to see from love the effect in thought—not the effect in its attainment, but before it, that is, not in the present but in the future. Hence man has what is called Hope, which increases and decreases in the reason as he sees or looks forward to the event. This delight is completed in the event, but it thereafter fades away with the thought concerning the event. It would be similar in the case of an event that was foreknown.
DP 179. ...A longing to know the future is innate with most people, but this longing derives its origin from the love of evil. It is therefore taken away from those who believe in the Divine Providence; and there is given them a trust that the Lord is disposing their lot. Consequently they do not desire to know it beforehand lest they should in any way set themselves against the Divine Providence. This the Lord teaches by many passages in Luke 12:14-48.
Questions and Comments
- At this time of year, when the lilies have long since been “cast into the oven,” but we know they’ll be back in the spring, do the lilies and other flowers help you have trust in the Lord’s Providence for us?
- What are some thoughts or strategies that help you not be “unsettled”?
- What is an example of seeking the kingdom of God rather than worldly things?
- Have you ever had a time when you felt kind of like a marionette, doing things not in freedom but being compelled by outside forces?
- What is a story in the Word in which someone struggles against God? Did God push him into it by being too obvious in His leading?
- Imagine if we could never hope for anything because we knew what was going to happen. Think of how important anticipation is, for children and adults.
- “Everyone is permitted to form conclusions about the future from the reason” (DP 179) , but not to know what is going to happen, including our lot after death. Thus we have an opportunity to put our faith in the Lord. “Saving faith is to believe in Him” (TCR 3:2) . Do you have trust that the Lord is saving you?