Here is an excellent post by David Bayly on God’s providence and why we should recognize it.
David is right when he says even pagans interpret providence. Last spring, when an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, some militant environmentalists celebrated it by saying things like “god is a Democrat.” (I think they mean the pagan goddess Gaia.) Read Rush Limbaugh comment here and here.
What is interesting here is that many of the same people who warn us against proclaiming God’s judgment do not hesitate to recognize God’s blessing. Pop culture is filled with these very messages, from songs like “Jesus take the wheel” to stupid email forwards that show up in our inbox from time to time. Why is it that those who warn against pointing out God’s providence in judgment are silent when people praise God’s providence in blessings?
That God often acts against His enemies is common all through Scripture. We see the story of King Nebuchadnezzar and the writing on the wall, God’s punishment of King David’s adultery with Bathsheba and God removing King Saul from power for disobedience. This continues in the New Testament, with God striking down Herod with a worm and killing Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul warns of the consequences of taking the Lord’s Supper unworthily in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32.
It is true that we are fallible human beings and we may misinterpret God’s providence. Our judgment is clouded by sin and we can often be wrong, which is not the case with the infallible and inerrant Bible. Therefore, we should be humble as we interpret events and the providence of God in those events. However, it is foolishness for Christians to abandon the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in our lives when that doctrine is woven throughout all of Scripture.
We must also remember that not all suffering is a judgment from God. The book of Job is the story of a righteous man who is allowed to suffer but maintains his faith. The Apostle Paul has a “thorn in the flesh” that God declined to remove, saying that His grace was enough.
But Scripture is very clear that God judges here on earth for wickedness. The world hates this doctrine, and many Christians are afraid of proclaiming it for fear we will look like kooks. But that is exactly why we need to defend the doctrine of providence. Remember that Martin Luther encouraged us to defend Scripture at “precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking.”