Last week our car broke down in the street, overheated at a traffic stop. I quickly entered a one-way street (the wrong way), on a little plaza, and pulled over. Parked in front of me a few yards ahead was a tow truck from our auto insurance company. God is good.
We didn’t even call the insurance company. I approached the tow truck driver, he called the central office, and in 10 minutes, we were taking our car piggyback to the mechanic.
I consider that providence. Now, somebody might say, “If it were divine providence, why didn’t God let you make it to the mechanic or to your home before the car overheated?” Or even, “If God was with you, why did he let the car overheat in the first place?”
I don’t know that I have an answer for that, because it second-guesses God’s actions. The minute we ask why God didn’t do something or doesn’t take some sort of action, we put ourselves in a position to judge him and we think we know more than he does what would be the best course of action.
Besides parking next to the tow truck, I can find plenty of reasons for gratitude in the situation.
- I’m grateful we weren’t out on the highway or on a long trip.
- I’m grateful we were able to pull into a little-used street where we ran no risk of a passing car hitting us.
- I’m grateful for the owner of the snack bar on the corner, a former employee of GM, who came out, offered advice, and provided a can for us to pour water in the radiator.
- I’m grateful our mechanic was able to find the cause of the problem promptly.
- I’m grateful the car part lasted as long as it did, 11 years and 220,000 kilometers.
God’s ways and workings may appear to be mysterious. But he assures us that he works for our good. Looking back, we often see that this is true.
My little example above might be easier to see than a case of an accident, a death, or the loss of a job or relationship. But the truth remains that God loves us and desires the best for us. The best may be disicpline, Hebrews 12. But he knows and cares.
We must remember that God did not create evil nor the evil one. God is not to blame for bad things that happen in this world, be it a car breakdown or a genocide. But God is omnipotent to use even the evil of this world for good. So Paul affirms,
And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters, Romans 8.28-29.
We love to cite the first verse, with great reason. But the second verse, not so well cited, provides the underpinning for all that God does. He wants us to be conformed to his Son’s image. He works in us and with us to that end. This was his eternal plan. He wants many people to be like Jesus.
The bumps of life cause concern. Troubles can leave us traumatized. Suffering causes great pain. But we can say with David, “Those who look to [God] for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces” Psa 34.5 NTL.
Sometimes that help may come in strange forms, unlikely people, or untimely moments when your car takes out in front of the tow truck.