If there is any one word that sums up the founding and history of America it is the word “Providence”. It seemed to be on the tongue of every leader and in every document from the days when our beloved nation was founded. It is the word we use in reference to God’s activity on our behalf.
I could spend hours quoating from documents and reading from history books about Providence. For example, if you’ve never read about the founding of Providence, Rhode Island you ought to do so. But, for time sake I want to mention just one reference to Providence from our history. The one I’ve chosen might seem odd to some people, but it illustrates my point as well as any.
The example of which I speak has to do with the treason of Benedict Arnold. I’ll try to keep it short. Jane Hampton Cook tells this story in her book, “Battlefields and Blessings”, one of my favorite books.
Cook says, “The task of communicating to the army the news of America’s most disloyal general fell to George Washington’s most loyal general, Nathanael Greene.”
Listen carefully to these words from General Greene in his proclamation to the army.”Treason of the blackest dye was yesterday discovered. General Arnold, who commanded at West Point, lost to every sense of honor, of private and public obligation, was about to deliver up that important post into the hands of the enemy.”
Then General Greene immediately announced the good news that Arnold had failed. He said,”Such an event must have given the American cause a dangerous, if not a fatal wound; but the treason has been timely discovered, to prevent the fatal misfortune.”
“Greene knew the treason would send shock waves through the army like an earthquake. To prevent fissures of fear, he decided to uplift the army’s spirits by pointing them skyward. He appealed to their view of heaven and God’s role as commander-in- chief on earth. If God was the Author of liberty, He was also the Protector against forces opposing liberty.”(Cook)
Now, note carefully the next statement from General Greene: “The providential train of circumstances which led to it affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of Divine protection. At the same time that the treason is to be regretted, the general (Washington) cannot help congratulating the army on the happy discovery.”
Greene then used the proclamation to warn the army against aftershocks by the enemy. He had no way of knowing at the time if Arnold was the only American general, officer, or soldier involved in the plot. Mrs. Cook said,”He went on to repeat that although Arnold had escaped, his accomplice had not—Once again God’s protection had intervened in the Revolution. If Arnold’s accomplice had escaped, Arnold might have succeeded in helping the British seize West Point. He also might have captured Washington. Had he been successful, Arnold would have received a royal title, such as duke. George Washington would have been hanged as a traitor. But because of Providence’s protection, the seismic tremors created by Benedict Arnold’s act of treason were not catastrophic.”
Dear friend, in this we see an example of what it was that gave our forefathers such comfort and courage. If we have faith in Providence it will do the same for us. The word “Providence” is defined in the dictionary as, “God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny”. It speaks of God’s intervention over the world, that things are controlled by the Lord, not luck! It was this fact that enabled Paul to joyfully accept his plight as a prisoner in Rome. He knew that God was in control and would use the bad for some good (Romans 8:28). That was the message he communicated to the saints in Philippi (Philippians 1:12-20).
Here’s the bottom-line. Every event, the good, the bad, and the ugly, is but a link in the chain of life that is forged by the hand of our ever-loving, all-wise Heavenly father, who causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him. Nothing is unrelated or unimportant. When we rest in this reality we have joy unspeakable and full of glory. Don’t be troubled by the strange events that seem to work against you and harm you. God is still in control!
Maybe you’re saying,”I wish I had that kind of faith”. You can! Do something about it. Paul said, “–faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”(Romans 10:17). Build your hopes on God’s unchanging, never-failing Word and you will find joy for the journey! Think about it.