No secondary cause can operate outside the assent of the primary cause of all things. Satan himself could go no farther than God had allowed, take no action that God himself had not permitted. The sword could fall only where God had decreed, the fire could consume only what God had permitted, the wind could blow only where God had allowed it to. Behind the sword, behind the fire, and behind the wind, Job did not ultimately see an evil devil but a good God. He did not ultimately see the schemes of his enemy, but the purposes of his Redeemer.
It is one of the great debates of a privileged age: is dark chocolate superior to milk, or milk to dark? Both have their advocates. The ones who prefer dark chocolate boast of the flavor of cocoa that is undisrupted by excess sugar, that so wonderfully compliments the bitterness of a dark coffee. The ones who prefer milk tell that milk and sugar enhance the flavor of cocoa the way they do the flavor of tea. Cocoa is at its best, they insist, when slightly lightened and moderately sweetened. The dispute rages on but in the end it must be remembered that while chocolate may be dark or milk, bitter or sweet, it’s all chocolate.
As we live out our short lives in this world we encounter circumstances that are bitter and sweet. We delight in many joys and grieve many sorrows. We laugh and we cry, we praise and we lament, we celebrate and we mourn. What unites the soaring heights and the plunging depths is the hand of providence. And while providence may be dark or light, bitter or sweet, it’s all providence.
I have often reflected on the simplest of observations on providence from the book of Job. Job had at first been blessed above all men, becoming wealthy in both possessions and progeny. He was blameless, he was upright, he turned away from evil and he lived in the fear of the Lord. He was as good and as blessed a man as we could hope to see on this side of the Fall.