Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Mystery of Providence Chapter 5

In this chapter Flavel hopes to show us the mighty Providence of God in directing our family affairs. Perhaps some would be negligent to thank Providence for their marriage or children. Flavel, shows us the ridiculous nature of such a proposition. He gives four evidences of Providence in family affairs:
  1. In appointing the parties for each other (the means in which they came together)
  2. In the harmony and agreeableness of temperaments and dispositions (how they compliment one another)
  3. In making one instrumental to the eternal good of the other (how they benefit each other)
  4. In children, the fruit of marriage

If you believe that you Providence has dealt you a raw hand, then Flavel urges you to consider the hand dealt to many others. Consider David's scoffing Michal. And patient Job's added affliction of his nagging wife. Even that you have a wife and children (if that be the case) is a gift of Providence.

Flavel also considers the care with which God gives to his children, and this in regards to the rearing of their own families. He again gives three evidences of Providence in this regard:

  1. The assiduity (close care) and constancy of the care of Providence for saints
  2. The seasonableness and opportuneness of its provisions for them (at times when we most need it God comes through for us)
  3. The wisdom of Providence in our provisions (giving needs over wants)

This chapter concludes with some of the most practical advice thus far. Flavel gives six exhortations to help us "walk suitabley to [our] experience of such mercies":

  1. Do not forget the care and kindness of Providence...
  2. Do not distrust Providence in future exigencies (that which is urgent)
  3. Do not murmur and complain under new straits
  4. Do not show the least discontent at the lot and portion Providence carves out for you
  5. Do not neglect prayer when straits (hard times) befall you
  6. Do not worry your hearts with sinful cares


How would you write this chapter if you were counseling a single person, widow, or barren wife?

In the six exhortations Flavel gives us at the end, are there any in which you find it most difficult to trust God in? It appears that Flavel is urging us to remember the past because that will dictate our response in the future. Therefore, remembering and rejocing in what God has done in the past will help us not worry our hearts with sinful cares.

Do you ever struggle with worry because you know that God is sovereign and does as He pleases? Do you ever find yourself doubting because you know that God's greatest aim is not merely our good but also His glory? Is it possible that Providence might so work that our greatest fears will become a reality so that Christ is magnified and we are filled with more joy? Do you, often, forget that God works all things together for our good? Even if we go through difficult times we know that in the end it will be for our greatest joy and God's greatest glory. Yet, knowing that do you sometimes find yourself concerned about what that might entail?

Stories that Flavel Uses:

Is a Yellow Horse Really that Bad?

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