By Aian Macpherson
Providence is the hidden in plain sight miracle of every day, the way God’s good purpose is worked out in creation. In the book of Esther God is not mentioned once, but through a string of coincidences it is still to be perceived that God saved the Jews. In God’s very invisibility we are being shown divine providence. This may be as little as being in the right place at the right time. As Mordecai says to Esther ‘and who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?’ (Esther 4:14).
How is providence to be perceived as miraculous, is it not just chance? Let’s take the example of a family who thank God for ‘the miracle’ of finding a survivor in the rubble a week after an earth quake? It might be that that is how it happened, there was no divine action but we want to give thanks to God for a life restored to its family. The way the beam fell created an air pocket, the family member happened to be in the right place and we thank God for the return of a loved one. The hope that kept them going in the rubble is also a gift from God – is it purely psychological effect or was God with them? What is their testimony? It might be that the person says they were put in the right place to survive, their testimony being something like this: ‘I was on the other side of the building, but I felt uncomfortable, I just had to move. It turned out that if I had stayed there I would be dead. I know God saved me’. This is the testimony of a friend of mine who was in Christchurch New Zealand 2011 during the earth quake there.
There is nothing unreasonable in any of the above, assuming you can first accept the existence of a God who cares for you. None of these examples would rewrite physics or natural law. But if the testimony is true, it is miraculous, it is providential.
A story I have grown up with is that of Corrie ten Boon, who was freed from a concentration camp because of an administrative error. God saved her by a miracle. A human hand accidently stamped the wrong box. In this instance is there a difference? For me there’s not. The providential miracle wakes us up the splendour of every day, every breath and moment, with wonder and thanksgiving. Some miracles, the acts of God’s goodness, are the foundation of the cosmos, necessities of life and others are moments of good fortune as some call it, but for the Christian they are moments to be noticed and given thanks for, they are the providence of God.