Providential Governance Of Small Things

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

- Proverbs 16:33

June 6, 1944, D-Day, marked the beginning of the Allies’ invasion of Normandy and what would finally culminate in the end of World War II in Europe. Establishing a beachhead in northern France gave the Allied powers a staging ground from which they could retake Europe from the Third Reich. But in order for the large operation to succeed, a host of smaller events had to take place. Sufficient weaponry for the invasion had to be produced, and any slow-down at a munitions factory leading up to D-Day could have forced a change in plans and altered the outcome. All of the efforts to fool the Germans into thinking the invasion would not be at Normandy had to be successful, and if Hitler did not believe the ruse, he could have supplied more forces to resist the invasion and to potentially render it ineffective. And then there were the “random” unplanned events that helped the Allies, such as the fact that Erwin Rommel, one of Germany’s most capable military leaders, had returned to Germany on June 5 to celebrate his wife’s birthday. His absence at the start of the invasion was one factor that contributed to the Allied victory.

We note these facts to indicate that if God is sovereignly in control over big events such as the rise and fall of empires, He must likewise be sovereignly and actively in control of smaller things as well. It takes numerous smaller decisions by many individuals to pull off something of great significance. Other things such as weather patterns must be just so, especially in military conflicts, in order for certain outcomes to occur. Even a decision as seemingly insignificant as whether to eat chicken or beef for dinner can be determinative. If the chicken is contaminated with salmonella, it could put the leader or general out of commission temporarily, and the whole course of events could change.

Few passages more plainly reveal God’s control over even the smallest things than Proverbs 16:33. Here we have reference to something apparently random—the casting of a lot, which is similar to rolling a pair of dice. From all outward appearances, the results of a lot casting or dice roll do not seem as if they are determined beforehand. Scripture tells us otherwise. The outcome of the lot or the dice is as much a decision of the Lord as is His choice to raise up or cast down an empire or nation. Nothing, not even “games of chance,” escape His active governance. No atom or subatomic particle moves except as God has decreed. He providentially governs even the smallest things.

Coram Deo

Knowing that God sovereignly determines even “random” events should give us pause. The unexpected flat tire that delays us on the way to work is not unexpected from God’s perspective. Who knows? Perhaps God ordained the flat tire so that we would miss getting into a wreck that we would not have missed had we left earlier. Whatever the reason, we can thank God in the midst of unplanned events because we know He has a good purpose for them.

Passages for Further Study

1 Kings 22:13–40
Isaiah 40:26
Jonah 1
John 19:24

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