Providence, Rhode Island; Providence Hospital; the hand of Providence — all these are just some of the ways the word providence intersects our culture. It is a familiar word that has lost its meaning. Today providence has been replaced by the word “news.”
Webster’s Dictionary defines providence as: “God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny.” Western culture no longer sees God as the One who shapes and controls the events of each day. Today we call Providence, news.
This shift leads to public cynicism and discouragement. News stories are reported as random events. Paul reminded the pundits on Mars Hill that it is God who is in control of life’s events, even to the point of determining where each person lives. No such unifying truth is present in the 24/7 news cycle.
For example, the zika virus has migrated from Brazil to South Florida and beyond. It is an unpleasant disease with devastating impact on unborn babies. It is carried by mosquitoes. There are efforts being made to contain the virus. This is what is reported. There is no call for prayer or acknowledgment that God’s help is needed. Rather the “news” leaves a mood of uncertainty and fear. Experts ask questions that have to do with what governments can do to protect us.
A recent earthquake in Italy destroyed a beautiful old city. News reports blame the damage on construction that was done before modern building codes were implemented. Again, random loss and tragedy is the theme, along with the notion that we can somehow protect ourselves from earthquakes.
There is bad news, but no hope. After all, prayer to the “Christian God” is offensive and unconstitutional. The idea that man is accountable to the Christian God is prejudicial and bigoted.
If you inserted “Providence” when you hear the word news, the events of each day would look and “feel” quite different. News ignores the reality of God in everyday life. Providence affirms that reality. News calls for government action and human investigations. Providence calls for repentance and humility. News implies that life is out of control and subject to the unfolding evolutionary processes. Providence declares God’s sustaining and controlling power over the affairs of man. Providence is a reminder that there is a God who is holy and is angry at sin. Providence also reminds us that all that is good in life comes from the hand of God.
Don’t let your children grow up believing that “news” accurately interprets life. Teach them about the mighty hand of the Providence of God. It is “in him we live and move and have our being.”