providence and responsibility

Every once in a while I’ll have days characterized by anxiety, frustration, and all sorts of flailing around trying to control my fate. And then there are other days where I am just lazy, falling back on my faint understanding of God’s sovereignty as an excuse to shirk my responsibilities. This might be a trivial matter for some, but in the last several weeks it’s been important for me to develop a better perspective on the future and the response of my heart and mind.

There is nothing at all that I can do to ultimately control what happens whether it is 10 years, 10 months, or even 10 minutes from now. No amount of anxiety can add a single hour to our fleeting lives (Luke 12:25), God has already sovereignly ordained each of our days (Psalm 139:16), and we can trust in His steadfast love toward us as His plan is fulfilled (Psalm 138:8).

Not only is it foolish for me to believe that any part of my future would lie within the scope of my control, but it is prideful and blasphemous for me to ever be anxious and suppose that I would have the best plan for my future, not trusting in the faithfulness of my Redeemer.

And it is within the care of God’s providence that I have been given the responsibility to work hard and to do so joyfully. I am to be a faithful steward of my time in every circumstance, knowing that it is here, and not somewhere else, where God has lovingly placed me and that one day I must stand to give an account of myself before my God (Romans 14:12).

I need to continue to understand that work is not about myself or being in control, but about Christ. It is about working heartily as for the Lord, being an example to those around me, working faithfully in the seemingly little things of life, and bearing witness to the character of God. Everything, whether remarkable or mundane, is from Him, through Him, and to Him. It is about Christ, always Christ. Here on earth it is man’s duty to work and yet to know that it is God that provides. Keep me accountable!

As Martin Luther puts it:

No beast works for his sustenance, but each has his proper function, according to which he seeks and finds his own food. The bird flies and sings, she makes nests and bears young. That is her work, but she does not thereby nourish herself. Oxen plow, horses draw carts and fight, sheep give wool, milk, and cheese, for it is their function so to do. But they do not thereby nurture themselves. No, the earth brings forth grass, and nurtures them through God’s blessing.

Likewise it is man’s bounden duty to work and do things, and yet to know that is Another who nurtures him: it is not his own work, but the bountiful blessing of God.

It is true that the bird neither sows nor reaps, yet she would die of hunger if she flew not in search of food. But that she finds food is not her work, but the goodness of God. For who put the food there, that she might find it?

For where God hath put nought, none findeth, even though the whole world were to work itself to death in search thereof.

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