PROV'IDENCE, n. [L. providentia.]
1. The act of providing or preparing for future use or application. Providence for war is the best prevention of it. [Now little used.]
2. Foresight; timely care; particularly, active foresight, or foresight accompanied with the procurement of what is necessary for future use, or with suitable preparation. How many of the troubles and perplexities of life proceed from want of providence!
3. In theology, the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures. He that acknowledges a creation and denies a providence, involves himself in a palpable contradiction; for the same power which caused a thing to exist is necessary to continue its existence. Some persons admit a general providence,but deny a particular providence, not considering that a general providence consists of particulars. A belief in divine providence, is a source of great consolation to good men. By divine providence is often understood God himself.
4. Prudence in the management of one's concerns or in private economy.
-- From Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary
#3 is certainly my favorite of the four definitions, and I was witness to that kind of "particular providence" yesterday. It "just so happened" that I was given a sermon on CD on Monday night. I popped it into the CD player on my way to the grocery store yesterday morning, and was richly fed by our elder Tom's exposition of John 11:1-46. That passage contains the story of Lazarus' death and Jesus' subsequent interactions with Mary and Martha (and later, Lazarus). The overriding theme of the sermon was that Jesus demonstrated perfect love and perfect authority in his actions and interactions concerning these three friends, and in his act of raising Lazarus . One thing that stuck with me is that the word used for Jesus' grief at Lazarus' tomb can also be used to mean anger or agitation. Some commentators suggest that Christ was righteously angry to see the effects of sin and death coming to bear on his close friend. Although He came to abolish that death, his friends felt the loss of their brother keenly and He wept with them.
The themes of the sermon came back to me as I visited Linda and her family in the afternoon. I was only there for a short time, but looking on Linda's face, I was grieved and almost angry to see her still fighting for her life. I was angry at death to be torturing her so, and I longed for her to be free of her disease-ridden body...quickly. God granted her freedom from her mortal body in the evening. What a relief it must have been for her to go to her eternal home.
In so many ways, God's perfect authority and love in unison were demonstrated through Linda's life and death. In the way He provided this teaching for me yesterday, God's perfect authority and love were demonstrated to me. Nothing is an accident.