Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken a deep dive into God’s providence: His sustaining power by which He governs and directs all things according to His purpose, without limit and throughout all eternity. When we talk about God’s providence, the question inevitably aries: What about human decisions?
I hate to disappoint you, dear friends, but this topic has been debated for centuries and probably won’t be satisfactorily explained in this short devotional. But, as we should with any question we have about God, let’s turn to His Word and see how it shapes our thinking as we wrestle through this question.
In Genesis 45, we find the words Joseph spoke to his brothers, years after they sold him into slavery in Egypt:
“And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life . . . So it was not you who sent me here, but God.” (Genesis 45:5, 8a)
So who caused Joseph to end up in Egypt—God or Joseph’s brothers? Did Joseph’s brothers make a free and sinful choice to sell their brother into slavery? Yes, they did. Did God send Joseph to Egypt for the sake of His good plan to preserve His people? Yes, He did.
We tend to think of causality in human terms as a zero-sum game, meaning there can’t be two causes that are both 100% the cause of an event. But God’s causality is transcendent—it is not like human causality at all. There’s no zero-sum game between God’s providence and our freedom.
God’s Word teaches both the total sovereignty of God and the freedom of His creatures. As we consider this mystery, we must also acknowledge that as His creatures, we are not independent of Him. Even our creaturely freedom is a result of His providence.
So when we say God’s sustaining power directs and governs all things, this includes human decisions, even evil decisions (Genesis 50:20) and those made by the most powerful people (Proverbs 21:1).
I know this has been heavy, and we may not agree on every point. That’s okay. But I hope this truth brings comfort as we remember that nothing can reach us without passing through God’s providential, faithful hands.
No matter what you face this week, God’s providence includes all the human decisions that affect our lives.Share
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