I’ve shared already that I’m working my way through Ruth on Sunday mornings at Cheerful Hope. As I’ve studied and preached the past two weeks Ruth is a story of God’s providence. I closed my sermon today on Ruth 1:6-22 with these words from John Flavel. Along with Flavel I would implore you to consider the good hand of God’s providence.
And now let me beg you to consider the good hand of Providence that has provided for, and suitably supplied you and yours all your days, and never failed you hitherto. And labor to walk suitably to your experience of such mercies. That you may do this, let me press a few suitable cautions upon you.
Beware that you do not forget the care and kindness of Providence which your eyes have seen in so many fruits and experiences. It was God’s charge against Israel ‘that they soon forgat his works’ (Ps 106.13.) A bad heart and a slippery memory deprive men of the comfort of many mercies, and defraud God of the glory due for them.
Do not distrust Providence in future exigencies. Thus they did: ‘Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?’ (Ps. 78.20) How unreasonable and absurd are these queries of unbelief, especially after their eyes had seen the power of God in such extraordinary works.
Do not murmur and complain under new straight. This is a vile temper, and yet how natural to us when wants press hard upon us! Ah, did we but rightly understand what the demerit of sin is, we would rather admire the bounty of God than complain of the straighthandedness of Providence. And if we did but consider that there lies upon God no obligation of justice or gratitude to reward any of our duties, it would cure our murmurs (Gen. 32.10)
Do not show the least discontent at the lot and portion Providence carves out for you. O that you would be well pleased and satisfied with all its appointments! Say: ‘The lines heritage’ (Ps 16.6). Surely that is best for you which Providence has appointed, and one day you yourselves will judge it so to be.
Do not neglect prayer when straights befall you. You see it is Providence that dispenses all, you live upon it therefore apply yourseles to God in the times of need. This is evidently included in the promise (Isa 41.17) as well as expressed in the command (Phil. 4.6). Remember God, and He will not forget you.
Do not worry your hearts with sinful cares. ‘Behold the fowls of the air’ (Matt 6.26.), says Christ; not the fowls at the door that are daily fed by hand, but those of the air, that do not know where the next meal is coming from; and yet God provides for them. Remember your relation to Christ, and His engagements by promise to you, and by these things work your hearts to satisfaction and contentment with all the allotments of Providence. – John Flavel, from The Mystery of Providence. pg.88-89.
We would be wise and comforted to take these words from the pen of Flavel. There is great comfort in a good theology of God’s perfect and meticulous providence. This wonderful little volume is worth read and coming to again and again, I’d encourage you as I did the brethren this morning at church to invest in its pages. You can order it from the Banner of Truth for less than $8.00 here.