Blogging the Institutes | 1.17.8 | Providence Trains the Godly

If bad things happen to believers, they will immediately begin thinking about God. His hand is the most effective at impressing upon us the need for patience and calm thinking. If Joseph kept thinking about how he was betrayed by his brothers, he could have never forgiven them. Instead, he turned toward the Lord, which helped him forget the evil perpetrated against them. He became inclined to mercy so that he could even voluntarily comfort his brothers by telling them, “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life…As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen 45:5; 50:20)  

If Job kept thinking about the Chaldees who stole his goods, he would have instantly been consumed with revenge. Nevertheless, he recognized the work fo the Lord and consoled himself with the most beautiful sentiment: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed by the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). If David had immediately fixed his attention upon Shimei, who assaulted him with stones and curses, then he would have urged his soldiers to retaliate against him. But he perceived that such an act would have been impulsive and not in line with the Lord, so he is able to calm his men down: “So let him curse,” David said, “Because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.'” David elsewhere curbs his grief: “I have become mute, I do not open my mouth, Because it is You who have done it” (Psalm 39:9).

One of the best remedies for anger and impatience is to meditate on divine providence. To be able to say to yourself, “The Lord will it” can bring great comfort because the Lord wills nothing except that which is just and helpful. The whole point is this: when we are unjustly attacked by men, let us remember to think about God. We must remember that whatever evil happens to us is permitted by God sent by his righteous decree. Paul wisely reminds us that we do not wrestle against and flesh and blood which helps to suppress the desire to take revenge against others (Eph 6:12).

One of the best ways to calm down our impulse to take revenge is to remember that God arms the devil, as well as the wicked, for conflict. He also sits as the umpire in these things to exercise our patience. If we experience disasters and misery which come from other people, we must remember the doctrine of the Law—that all prosperity has its source in the blessing of God and all adversity in his curse (Deut 28:1). Let us tremble at the dreadful warning, “And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me, then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins” (Leviticus 26:23-24). These words condemn our spiritual laziness, for we often refuse to worship God when things go well and repent when things go poorly. It is for this reason that Jeremiah and Amos criticized the people of Israel severely for not believing that good and evil are produced by the command of God (Lamentations 3:38; Amos 3:6). Isaiah reiterates the same thing: “I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

One thought on “Blogging the Institutes | 1.17.8 | Providence Trains the Godly

  1. Pingback: Blogging the Institutes: List of Posts | Raising Lazarus

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