Autumn in Italy is a special time of year, one of my favorites! In the small towns, like ours, the scent of wood smoke floats in the crisp, clean air. The grapes ferment into fine wines, and olives – pressed into Italy’s green gold -glisten in their bottles.
But as an American, my thoughts naturally turn to Thanksgiving. Although with our kids grown and gone and Hubby at work, we no longer ‘celebrate’ the holiday. But it still remains to me one of America’s greatest!
We have so much to be grateful for. For all that’s happened and all the Lord has done. And for all that perhaps could have happened but never did. Day by day and year by year, we’ve seen his provision and care.
And we’ve known his Providence, in the good times and the bad.
In the film Anne of Green Gables, Matthew Cuthbert told his sister Marillathat it was a lucky mistake the orphanage sent them Anne instead of a boy. But Marilla responded, “It wasn’t luck, it was providence. He knew we needed her.”
Curious, as I’d never really thought of it before, I looked it up. “What,” I wondered, “is the difference between provision and providence?” And I learned that this seldom used word makes all the difference in the world.
Provision is having your necessities supplied, and it’s a wonderful thing. But providence goes so much deeper. Provision can come from any source. And by hard work or prudence, we can even become the source of our own provision.
But providence is supply which can only come from the hand of God.
It indicates not only God’s special care and guidance, but his foresight in directing the affairs of the universe or his benevolent care of us.
It’s God doing what only he can do. Providing what only he can provide. Preventing what only he can prevent. And like with the Cuthberts, sending not what we want, but what he knows we need.
Chills run down my spine just thinking of that scene. “He knew we need her.” I’ve known many such moments in my life, and I’m sure you have too. Times when we’ve clearly seen the hand of God at work knowing what only he could know, doing what only he could do.
But how can we discern Providence even in the bad times?
Our world is facing troubled times of war and death, sickness and poverty, with evil coming out more strongly every day. How can we see God at work in a world gone so wrong? And learn to give thanks in such times?
King David knew such fear and trouble. Scholars believe that he penned many of the Psalms, including 23 and 27, while in exile, driven out and abandoned. His own son had seized the throne. Enemies chased and threatened on every side. Yet even those Psalms overflow with thanksgiving, gratitude, and trust.
For David knew God’s Providence. He had seen the Lord protect him and keep him safe, even in impossible circumstances. He’d found the Lord a safe shelter DURING the storm, a strong fortress THROUGH times of distress. A hiding place IN a world gone wrong. And knowing that even if all others should forsake, the Lord never would, he sang songs of praise and declared he always would.
So will you give thanks this year for God’s great gift of Providence — past, present, and future?
Remember: He really does know just what we need!