“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Providence isn’t Fickled Fate, by Randall D. Kittle

When I was a child, a new television show quickly caught fire with TV viewers and became an instant hit. It was a comedy show called “Laugh In.” It combined sarcastic humor, rapid-fire jokes, and quickie sketches to hide its underlying social commentary. One of the regular features of this show was the awarding of the “Flying Fickle Finger of Fate.” This segment usually highlighted some poor, hapless soul whose life had experienced an unlikely and untimely turn of events. The woman who had three different cars catch on fire or the guy who has been struck by lightning six times would be likely candidates to receive this facetious award. The show referred to these types of incidents as the outworkings of the fickle finger of fate.  After all, how else could you explain the crazy things that happen to people in the course of their lives?

Well, you can blame the fickle finger of fate for your lot in life if you want to. Plenty of people do. Some think things just happen by sheer, dumb luck. Others just chalk the unexplainable up to coincidence … it just happened. How hopeless and discouraging it must be to live such a fatalistic existence.

The good news for followers of Jesus Christ is that we are not prisoners of fickled fatalism, because the providence of God envelops our lives. The doctrine of providence rests upon the fact that God controls and ordains — either directly by decreeing or indirectly by permitting — all that happens. Now, the unredeemed might argue that providence is little more than spiritualizing the fickle finger of fate. In providence, they would say, we have just given a name for the individual who points the finger. But that, my friends, is the critical point! That is what makes all the difference in the world. It is a personal, loving God who sends rain on the just and the unjust. It is a merciful Creator who orders our steps. The holy and wholly good God is at work in our lives and through our lives. If God is doing it, it cannot be wrong, bad, insignificant, or pointless.

The real difference for believers who are trusting in God’s providence compared to those relying on fate is that we have a reason to hope, for we hope in God. Things aren’t just happening to us. They are happening for a purpose — God’s purpose. Moreover, because it is God’s purpose, whether we understand it or like it, it is a good purpose.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

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