We may never know why God brought a particular providence into our lives. But we do not need to know. What we need to know is that God is wise, righteous, and gracious. What we need to remember is that even hard providences work out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
I can imagine the widow of Nain walking beside the casket of her son, her only son. Her support now gone, she trembles from the aching loss and the fear of insecurity. Or think of Jairus. His daughter near death, his only aim in life was to bring Jesus to her bedside. But before that happy meeting could occur, she was gone. Scripture is succinct. Its descriptions are concise. The widow wept and Jairus was obviously ready to fear. The responses are not uncommon. We perhaps know them well.
But is there help for those who suffer a difficult providence? It may surprise some to discover that the chapter on providence in the Westminster Confession of Faith provides pastoral guidance for those who encounter difficulty along the way, and it is a wonderful word to those who have ears to hear. But before the balm can be applied the Divines are eager to help us answer one simple question, how far does the providence of God extend? (WCF 5.4) The answer may unsettle the reader, however that is by design. By telling us that the providence of God extends to the first fall “and all other sins of angels and men” we are being told that nothing, whether good or ill, escapes God’s sovereign appointment. But how does that help?
First, in section five, we are reminded of God’s character. Notice the way God is described: he is wise, righteous, and gracious. This is the first thing a person who endures a difficult providence must be told. Why? Because he may infer that God resembles his hard experience. Such is not the case.