As I have continued to read and contemplate the story in Acts 5 of the apostles and their persecution, I cannot help but consider this additional thought (My initial thought is here). In a situation that included prison, interrogations, and beatings, we still see God’s providential hand at work. In this post, I will point out incidences of God’s providence and then draw implications for trusting and praying in light of God’s providence.
God’s Providence as Seen in Acts 5 Persecution
Luke tells a crazy story. As the apostles continued serving the sick, lame, and spiritually tormented people in and around Jerusalem, offering God’s mercy to the masses, the religious leaders continued to grow in outrage. Instead of appreciation and gratitude, they were indignant, afraid that they were going to lose political power. The leaders did not love the people or God, even though they were the “spiritual and political leaders” of the Jews. God was in their mouths but very far from their hearts.
Yet, God was working in the midst of the situation providentially.
First, an angel of the Lord broke them out of prison. God used an angel to release them from prison. God used supernatural power in this situation. In this incidence, an angel. Who would have guessed this? In fact, the text does not say that the apostles were even asking or looking for this particular help. Yet, God worked in the midst of this horrible situation. Here, supernaturally.
Second, God used a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, according to Luke. At this point of the story, Gamaliel was not a follower of Jesus Christ. In fact, he helped train Saul, who eventually became the Apostle Paul, to hate Christians. But here, God providentially used the fallen logic of an unbelieving man to help the apostles. When the Sanhedrin wanted to kill the apostles, this man was used by God to save their lives. He convinced the rulers to let the situation play out and see if God was really behind it or not. This is another place where God’s providence worked in the situation. A sovereign God used an unbeliever’s fallen logic to work on behalf of the apostles’ lives.
Implications for Trusting in Light of God’s Providence
How do we trust God in the midst of such a desperate situation? We remember His character and remember all His previous instances of providential help in the past. Specifically, we recount in our hearts what we know about God’s character. We recognize that He asks us to trust and respect Him while in the midst of everyday living. As Jesus did, we strive to honor Him above everything else – to please Him above everything and everyone. We remember that God never leaves us or forsakes us, that nothing can pry us out of God’s hand, that God loves us always, and that we are not under God’s condemnation because of the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ.
So, first, remember that you can and should trust God’s character. He never changes. What is true about God is always true. Therefore, even in the midst of the toughest circumstances, you can rest in the character of God.
Second, remember God’s previous providential help in the past. God providentially acts in history. Of course, the Bible tells us of these events, like in Acts 5. Here, we read of God’s active intervention. We do not have any question whether it was God or not. The story makes that evident. Plus, in the pages of Christian history, you can read and remember of His providential help for people like George Mueller. In addition, you can remember those places in your life as well.
One idea for you is to keep a list on your phone or in a journal of all the places where you have seen God’s providential work in your life. Begin this list by thinking in your past. Remember answered prayer requests and other times when God was working on your behalf through providential circumstances. Then, add to your list as you see those instances in the present. When you get a bit discouraged or are wondering what God is doing, review that list thoroughly in prayer thanking God for His providential help and protection.
Implications for Praying in Light of God’s Providence
Now, remind yourself of what you have remembered about God’s character and providential work while you pray. Let me suggest four steps:
First, pray in gratitude for a loving, caring, and in-control God. Thank God for what you know about His character.
Second, review your list with God. Think through what you have listed from the Bible, people in history, and your own story of God’s providential help. Speak what you know and what you notice in those stories back to God in prayer.
Third, ask God your requests in your own situation. Ask for God to work out His will and plan. You can ask for something specific or simply for His providential working in your life.
Fourth, ask God to give you wisdom in order to know how best to respond to your providential circumstances. God invites us to ask Him for wisdom. He promises to give it to us.
This blog was originally posted at Kevin Carson’s Blog, view the original post here.