Together we have been reading through The Mystery of Providence written by Puritan John Flavel. You can read more about the project here.
Guilt alone is not reason enough to ponder the providence of God. True as it may be, that we should be convicted about the necessity to dwell upon God’s Work, John Flavel gives us ten motivations for reflecting on Providence:
- One maintains communion with God through reflection.
- It creates pleasure and delight.
- It suppresses the natural atheism of one’s heart.
- Recognizing the works of Providence now will support faith in future trials.
- It ministers to the soul’s continual praise and thanksgiving.
- It endears Jesus Christ more and more to our souls.
- It thaws and melts the heart.
- It creates peace in the mind in an unstable world.
- It acts as a useful tool to provoke holiness.
- It will sweeten death upon its consideration in our dying moments.
Upon reading through this chapter, there are two primary points and applications that sum up these motivations.
First it fixates our contentment on the heavenly instead of the worldly. As Romans 1 tells it, Paul writes that the natural creation reveals God, but that ultimately humans will accept the world and reject God if left to their own ways. Yet, the dwelling upon Providence draws the sinner away from the world and instead towards God. It is in the same way that contentment is no longer with the world but with God. During the good times it pushes us to praise Him and in the difficult times it pushes us towards His comfort. There can be no greater aspect to life than this, because when contentment is fixated upon God through Jesus Christ, we can find joy in the situations here because they cannot compare to that which is to come.
Second, it fixates our communion on the heavenly instead of the worldly. Related to a contentment on the heavenly is also communion with the heavenly. A dwelling upon the works of God brings us to a deeper relationship with Him. When we recognize it is God at work, the natural response is to want to know Him more, to want to trust Him more, and to desire a deeper relationship with Him.
Changing us from the inside out, our hearts are softened towards Him. We begin to reject those things that bring earthly pleasure and exchange them for things that bring eternal pleasure. A dwelling upon the things of God becomes a necessary part of our life because of who it makes us in Him. Is your desire for Him? Do you sufficiently reflect on both who He is and what He has done?