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What is Providence, and why should I care?

The snow and ice in Northern Louisiana are once-in-a-generation event. It is dangerous in many ways. In the south, we lack road salt, plows, snow tires, and the skills to navigate the challenges. However, the snow is also gorgeous to take pictures and enjoy as a child. But can this snowstorm make me think of God’s providence? Yes, I believe it should. I believe Northern Louisiana, especially Ruston, should be filled with awe of God’s providence right now. First, let’s get a simple confession of providence, which the Heidelberg Catechism nicely articulates. Question 27 What is the providence of God? Providence is the almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby with his hand, he upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things come, not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.

The above is a helpful definition to memorize, and I especially like the part about herbs and grass. It reminds me that all of creation is dependent upon his fatherly hand. But there are great advantages to knowing, trusting, and confessing providence. Again, Heidelberg Catechism nails it. Question 28 What advantage is there in confessing God’s providence? That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and hope-filled for the future, as we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from his love; since all creatures are so in his hand, that without his will they cannot so much as move. I have drawn much encouragement on a daily and seasonal basis from this truth. It draws me close to the stories of Joseph, Elijah, Paul, Deborah, Dinah, and many saints now in the cloud of witnesses. But I want to draw it to the weather over the past year. The people of Northern Louisiana have had a strange year in many regards. Two hurricanes following on the heels of a tornado, a snowstorm, and now an ice storm. Wow! Alligators and Southerners aren’t ready for such wind and cold. But notice the order of those events. The ice came after the winds. Christians, that is a great reason to rejoice, and do so deeply with great gratitude. Little ole’ Ruston has fared far better than my home country state of Texas. The power lines of Northern Louisiana were cleared by two hurricanes and many workers on account of those storms. In fact, I would dare say, after conversations around town, the power line lanes are more clear than they have been in years. Thanks be to the Lord. When the ice came, there were far fewer limbs in danger of breaking lines than in previous years. Many homes have already had tree limbs fall or trimmed. Homes and the power grid were providentially prepared. For it is one thing to lose power in the summer and an entirely different one to lose in the winter. Thanks be to the Father who controls the storm, the ice, and seasons. Let us continue to pray for municipal authorities and workers to benefit from God's providence and care. Pastor Dr. Chris S. Stevens

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