Wednesday, May 13, 2009

5/19 Providence and Pleasure

(Ten Lepers- woodcut of Melanchthon's book)

5/13- Providence and Pleasure

“All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.” (Psalm 104:27,28)
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. “ (James 1:17)

Calvin: Gratitude of mind for the favorable outcome of things, patience in adversity, and also incredible freedom from worry about the future all necessarily follow upon this knowledge [of providence]. Therefore whatever shall happen prosperously and according to the desire of his heart, God’s servant will attribute wholly to God, whether he feels God’s beneficence through the ministry of men, or has been helped by inanimate creatures. For thus he will reason in his mind: surely it is the Lord who has inclined their hearts to me, who has so bound them to me that they should become the instruments of his kindness toward me. In abundance of fruits he will think: “It is the Lord who ‘hears’ the heaven, that the heaven may ‘hear’ the earth, that the earth also may ‘hear’ its offspring” [cf. Hosea 2:21-22, Vg.; 2: 22-23, EV]. In other things he will not doubt that it is the
Lord’s blessing alone by which all things prosper. Admonished by so many evidences, he will not continue to be ungrateful. (I.17.7)

Belief in providence allows us to be grateful to God and give Him the glory for the good things of life. Belief in providence also allows us to face problems with patience and lack of worry. In our world full of worry (swine flu, economy- the auto giant’s failures), we need to get back to a belief in providence.
Philip Yancey once wrote that if Christians have problems answering why a good God allows pain in the world, atheists also have a problem of how no God allows pleasure and beauty in the world (“I Was Just Wondering” p.33). Why do we have taste buds? Why can we discern colors? Why are we able to enjoy comfort? How is it possible for so many to have joy even though they may face heart aches or pain? The hymn says, “All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above. So thank the Lord, so thank the Lord for all His love.” I remember reading a book on evil by a professor at UNC who was rebelling against his fundamentalist upbringing by becoming an atheist. He said he was generally happy and even set free, but he felt alone and that there was no one to thank. Many are wonderful at criticizing belief in Jesus and the church, but there is always something missing. Pleasure points to God’s providential blessing. We can appreciate beauty best when we understand the artist’s hand and design. The first benefit of a belief in providence, for Calvin, is gratitude. Gratitude is a primary ingredient to worship and glorifying God.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the beauty of life, and for the pleasures you have designed for us in life. Help us to see your hand and appreciate your blessings.

No comments:

Post a Comment