Friday, June 01, 2007

God's Smiling Face Hidden Behind Frowning Providence

Lord, even in the face of the dark clouds that we face this day, or that loom on the horizons of our tomorrows, we declare your great sovereignty over our todays and tomorrows, and that your smiling face is turned toward us as we remain humbly submitted to you and your word (Is. 66:2). Lord, we thank you that your faithfulness is great (so much greater than ours), and as a result, we have hope for today, and even brighter hope for tomorrow! Surely, your mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:23)! So we give you praise - the sovereign God from whom all blessings flow! To you belongs all the praise, glory and honor! Amen!

"One of the best illustrations of God's hiding a smiling face behind a frowning providence is the story of how John Owen failed to help John Bunyan get out of prison. Repeatedly when Bunyan was in prison Owen worked for his release with all the strings he could pull. But to no avail. But when John Bunyan came out in 1676 he brought with him a manuscript "the worth and importance of which can scarcely be comprehended." In fact Owen met with Bunyan and recommended his own publisher, Nathaniel Ponder. The partnership succeeded, and the book [Pilgrim's Progress] that has probably done more good, after the Bible, was released to the world—all because Owen failed in his good attempts to get Bunyan released, and because he succeeded in finding him a publisher. The lesson: "Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face."
(John Piper, The Chief Design of My Life: Mortification and Universal Holiness, Reflections on the Life and Thought of John Owen [1994 Bethlehem Conference for Pastors])

"There are seasons in the lives of all when it is not easy, no not even for Christians, to believe that God is faithful. Our faith is sorely tried, our eyes bedimmed with tears, and we can no longer trace the outworkings of His love. Our ears are distracted with the noises of the world, harassed by the atheistic whisperings of Satan, and we can no longer hear the sweet accents of His still small voice. Cherished plans have been thwarted, friends on whom we relied have failed us, a profest brother or sister in Christ has betrayed us. We are staggered. We sought to be faithful to God, and now a dark cloud hides Him from us. We find it difficult, yea, impossible, for carnal reason to harmonize His frowning providence with His gracious promises. Ah, faltering soul, severely-tried fellow-pilgrim, seek grace to heed Isaiah 50:10, 'Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.' When you are tempted to doubt the faithfulness of God, cry out, 'Get thee hence, Satan.' Though you cannot now harmonize God’s mysterious dealings with the avowals of His love, wait on Him for more light. In His own good time He will make it plain to you. 'What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter' (John 13:7). The sequel will yet demonstrate that God has neither forsaken nor deceived His child. 'And therefore will the Lord wait that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him' (Isa. 30:18)."
(A.W. Pink, The Attributes of God [Baker, 2006])

See also, John J. Murray, Behind a Frowning Providence (Banner Of Truth, 1990); and, The Providence of God, from Monergism.com.

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