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God’s Providence in Our Distress

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
January 27, 2021 1:00 am

God’s Providence in Our Distress

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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January 27, 2021 1:00 am

What do we do when life's circumstances seem hopeless? On FamilyLife Today, hosts Dave and Ann Wilson talk with pastor and author John Piper about crying out to God in our distress, knowing His providence ensures NOTHING is impossible!

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COVERED TOPICS / TAGS (Click to Search)
A New Beginning
Greg Laurie
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

Something very unusual something supernatural happened in John Piper's life when he learned of his mother's death.

I get a phone call.

My brother-in-law says your mom was in a section should make if you did me not make it. While I am weeping like I had never wept before I was happy. Thank you thank you that I had such mom for 20 years, thinking that she didn't suffer from what they said that I thought to myself, to be simultaneously heartbroken and content in joyful release possible. This is family life today.

Our hosts are David and Wilson. I'm Bob Lapine you can find us online.

The family life to be able to simultaneously have heartbreak and joy that requires an understanding of the providence of God talk more about that today with John stay with us and welcome to family life today.

Thanks for joining us. We been spending some time this week just acknowledging the fact that life is hard and at the same time that God is good. I remember I think it was a song years ago that was the course. Life is hard, but God is good and those are both true and the more we can understand. Yes life is hard and we shouldn't pretend like it isn't. And yes, God is good and we should never forget his goodness, the better off will be the difficulty comes when it's hard to remember God's goodness in the middle of life's hardness now through its simultaneously true, but sometimes when you're in the dark cave. You forget then you have to be reminded. That's why it's a great program to talk to you and II think this is this is our first Dr. John Piper who wants to sleep in the gun safe and welcome back today and what is it that you want to well seeing the goodness of God in some horrific calamity globally or nationally or personally demands that Christians be taught what the Bible teaches about suffering before therein at you can't take a person weeping their eyes out and give them five verses that state purposes for their suffering that has to come in a moment when the mind is eager and ready and reflective on text but we won't see the goodness of God in the horror of an event unless we been taught, say four or five places in the Bible give one to just as an example that I think has helped me so many times when Paul said at the end of signal is one we we were so unbearably crushed. We despaired of life itself. Okay, so whatever that was. It was right up to the brink of death. It was emotionally stripping and it was painfully ready to bring them death and then he adds a purpose clause that was to make us rely upon God who raises the dead. Now a pastor's gotta build that mindset into his people before they get stuck down because she could come into hospital room to lay that verse on some widow who's got her dead husband's hand in her hand, but if she's been taught for 10 years until I saw this I saw mom's and and widows in dad's and parents of disabled kids like rocks.

They were rocks when tragedy happened because of 10 years of such texts. That was it. When you when you think about that purpose clause that was to make us rely use liquid purpose was that it wasn't Satan's purpose to make you rely on God so God had a purpose in bringing Paul to say I'm distressed unto death. God said, I would say I have written several articles to just try to help people get a handful of purposes from God for your suffering that don't answer every question song on your question yesterday like I said, what you should say is get this hurt I meant that even though I've I could give you five reasons for why this happened to you they be big, overarching reasons from the Bible which will make a difference, but probably not. Not at that moment you have just completed this book on Providence we been talking about this week a massive volume on the subject where you dive into and apply the understanding of God's good kind sovereign control over humanity to the hard issues that we face things like, I'm thinking of a young woman who desperately wants to be a mom and every month gets the news that this month in the next month not this month and a year later. Not this month and she goes to the doctor and the doctor says we are not gonna be a mom.

Biologically, and she's going I know this is to cause me to rely on God, but the grief I'm experiencing is so overwhelming that it's hard to see the goodness of God in the midst of this kind of infertility that it's hard is an understatement and the Bible is unmistakably clear that God opens and closes the womb, so the remedy the answer. The solution approach to her agony is not to lie to her. She has better than that and say, well, God, and will this. This is Satan. Closing your or God and will this this is fate or something like that. Lotta people to help them. She's read her Bible. She knows God opens and closes wounds and he can do it whenever he wants to see you just if I were dealing with that woman in my church.

I wouldn't even go there, I would have to say that she would know that. And I would take her hand and say I don't know what God has for you, but I know it's got.

I know it's good and I might go to this text that I jotted down here a few days ago to the UNIX who keep my sabbaths who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant I will give in my house within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name that shall never be cut off of the reason that text better than sons and daughters. I'm going to give you unit UNIX can either be man-made, UNIX, or God made UNIX but they're not ever going to procreate a single woman in her 50s brought me this text.

She said that's my text. I love this text. All I did was dream about being married. I wanted to have children and no man has ever pursued me that may be as painful as infertility and merit and she found this text to be life probably was an automatic was a real struggle was without months and years of hoping and grief and wondering if you keep writing really lucky break. I think when Paul said we don't want to pray as we ought to pray. That's the sort of thing had in mind which is God's will for me I don't I don't know which is will for me is but this is unnamed for me better than sons and daughters.

I don't know quite what that is but it's better God says is betterment to believe it's better and so she picks up and moves on in there been, you know single women to our church over the years I was over 33 years and I watch some of these women who dreamed and then the dream faded another in the 50s 60s.

I started dreaming in their 20s and 30s and it never happened. And God met them with such life-giving hope that they were flourishing they were productive. They worked lamenting their state so that they were paralyzed but rather rich in ministry and relationships and that's what this kind of sovereignty can do. So the sovereignty that they closed the womb or stop the relationship from happening that sovereignty is the very sovereignty that enables her to count on a God who's going to give me something better than sons and daughters of your the woman whose barren one stepchildren and you understand God closes and God opens do you go get help. Infertility doctors do you go around you try to have a baby because it seems like I'm so glad that you know you asked me between times one set It is indicated to say something that needs be set. Providence does not dictate duty. The Bible dictates duty. Okay, you cannot discern from Providence how you ought to act.

You can discern from province ways that God is acting that may be utterly perplexing or may be very transparent but you should never infer from a Providence that I should therefore act a certain way, like, in this case. Okay he shut my womb. I haven't had any babies for 10 years.

The doctor says I can't. It would be a sin to take any fertility treatments that doesn't follow.

It does not follow because the decision to be involved with some kind of fertility effort is as much a Providence as the closing of the womb that the old argument was going to put women to have pain in childbirth. Therefore, they shouldn't have any shot another, they shouldn't have any epidurals in many people for centuries believed you were interfering with the providence of God in his punitive decree that women suffer in childbirth doesn't follow follow is nothing about the actions of God in Providence that gives a clear dictate for what comes next. So I would say the decision about what kinds of adoption options or fertility options exist should be based on other factors and I think there are kinds of fertility efforts that probably are not to be done.

I think Ritter womb kind of things gets us into big moral issues that that are not healthy like I wouldn't counsel a woman to have her husband donate to sprint to another woman's womb she grows the baby.

It's it's his child and that was shall only she signed a contract that you get the baby all my guns that kind of thing has gotten so many people into so much difficulty and pain. When a woman carries a baby for nine months something happens. That's intended to be gloriously bonded and to just sell it off with a contract that's not a good way to do it, but that's very different than other kinds of medications that might just bring out a person potential that lies within them, but we adopted a daughter and son go to say it can be wonderful. Go there in the church should really get behind that and try to make it affordable because slug people may do so on affordably appears look at assessing an option you just mentioned this earlier.

The issue of Providence and prodigal's to have a son or a daughter who walks away. Maybe a parent's greatest grief letter as you said the loss of the child.

I like it is no doubt my mind that that's true something you've lived through you shared with us openly before about having a prodigal as you were raising your kids, how were you thinking about the kind providence of God. Well, one of your kids was away and not communicating with you what I think I am so thankful that I was 2223 2425 when God began to build into my life a confidence in his absolute sovereignty and goodness so that I would have decades to get ready for these kinds of disappointments.

I think I want to say two things in public. Number one I five children and I believe I would die for all of them in a minute. I would die in less than a minute for their salvation. I love my children something about your own flesh and blood that is designed by God to be indescribably special because the first thing I want to say I love my children, even those who are not walking the way I think they should choose the second thing I'd say is the providence that is brought us to this point is not finished. I might be almost finished God's not finished. I want to say that to every parent who says how can God like I would say Peter was going to do tomorrow not know what this Providence that you are about to criticize my due miraculously tomorrow you need Providence is the third thing I'd say now is that if there is hope for any of us. Okay, we were all prodigal's once you learn from the Bible, rather than from your own experience about it was you know you were all prodigal, even if you get saved six because you were dad at five that Providence is our only hope for salvation when the rich young man turned away right and Jesus said it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go into the kingdom of heaven.

And the disciples threw up her aunt and said will then who can be saved and Jesus didn't say all gets overstated. He said nobody he said with man.

It is impossible but with God all things are possible, some in a tight other parents by the hand say I scan on our faces coming. I do this every other week. With regards let's get on our faces and lay hold on God for the miracle all seen the other day and worship song power. Power power in Jesus and my hands are near tears on my face and I'm saying you got all the power in the universe for my family. Just say a word member. The guy who comes to Jesus and my child, the child, to say the word because he knew he had the power issue. Power is just if I don't know what to talk about perplexities and why why why why this delay. Why just say the word to the dead bones together rattled and they were close the flesh in the heart of stone comes out the heart of flesh goes into new creatures born that's God's will. There is no hope for salvation without the doctrine of sovereign products. You keep hoping that your child keeps wandering farther and in some cases parents get the news that a child has died apparently unrepentant use emotionally how I get help in that eventuality, which hasn't happened yet, but Paul in Romans nine to it says he wrote I am in on ceasing anguish is the exact price on ceasing the picture that unceasing and posted rejoice always and again I say rejoice always in unceasing anchors of joy.

So I got unceasing anguish because of my kinsmen because they rejected Christ. He wants his fellow Jews to be saved so much so that when they're not.

He feels unceasing anguish in one chapter later chapter 10 verse one insist my hearts desire and prayer to God for them is that they might be saved. Even though he says one chapter later hardening is come upon Israel until the full number. The Gentiles comes in.

He knows that those who are not saved are not saved because of a decreed hardness of heart, so Paul's got all this theology in his head, and you watched the man live. I love this man. I love the apostle Paul called what I love you both, because there I see him in anguish, day and night.

He goes to bed at night weeping over Jews. He gets up leaping over Jews and yet he's the happiest man there is no figure. He says in second Corinthians 610 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. This coming had desiring God. Bethel Baptist Church doesn't cause the seminary.

This is our mantra sorrowful, yet always rejoicing because in your lives. Right now there a good 10 reasons to be sorrowful and there are lots of reasons to be joyful. I mean really big reasons to be joyful and and the mystery of the Christian life is possible. I mean in real life. Can you be sad and joyful simultaneously in my answers yes number one because the Bible says so sorrowful, yet always rejoicing and number two because I tasted it and have tasted it when I argue just give you picture my mother was killed in a bus accident of 28 years old, never having suffering a life of any substantial I get the phone call my brother-in-law says your mom was in a section. Make it your dad may not make it. I don't know anything else right now call you back to hang it up a little two euros total malignity said that he sat and my wife could hear.

I will back to my room nearly on cry for two hours.

So while I'm crying.

I dismember this is such a gift from God.

While I am weeping like I had never wept before because my mom was the most special person in my life. This is my wife. I think I was happy for various reasons. I had her for 28 years. I said thank you thank you that I had such a mom for 20 years, thinking that she didn't suffer from what they said and I had of the reasons I was I was deep Lee joyfully thankful for much reason while I'm just pouring out my my grief and I thought to myself it really is possible really is possible to be simultaneously heartbroken and content and joyful in many things that God is and does and I think that's a picture marriage. In some ways you have both. There's grief, there's anguish, there's desperation.

Hopefully there is joy there is hopefulness and yet I think we live in a culture says if you feel any of the grief and sorrow, your you should feel that you're done this marriages and everywhere but you're saying that both of those can be true in a marriage as well right and probably into family and go as anybody who says you should get out of the marriage where you found some discomfort is crazy I mean nave, crazy on biblical stupid's wicked marriage is the best school of sanctification ever designed by God. When you say I do for better or for worse, you better mean both of those because they're both, and I'm just appalled I'm appalled at how many Christian pastors don't take that seriously in their counseling Paul, why do you have people say that you mean that you mean for worse you come up with a thousand qualifications for worse, so don't get me going on this, I do.

I love marriage.

I believe marriage is a beautiful portrait of Christ and his church and Christ does not divorce is people.

What about the single person who is wondering is there one person picked up for me that's a good question in God's providence is she sitting right there.

Let's try one that's true, the answer is yes and no.

I mean, is there one is is yes and no. Yes, in the sense that God is sovereign and decides right now you can marry and you marry her. But did I married the one that God had appointed yes you did. You asked me how I know for married to the right person is a look at the name on the wedding.

That is how you know I know who you should be married to the one you're married to. That's God's appointed man, which is good to hear because we've had people come up to us and conferences and say we got drunk in Vegas and we got married. Obviously that was not God's will. Getting married that way is not God's will that they are married is you learn from the Bible. What to do with with that so but let's let's get more specific about is there one what people are really wrestling with.

When they say that is of all the people I might meet no date get serious about might I miss him and that since God has one picked out, I might miss the province would say no. No you won't miss God's one God's province means you are appointed to marry this person now which gets me back to the point that province does not dictate duty duty is to marry a nonbeliever that's in the Bible so it seemed to just go get drunk, get married, but it's compounded send wife what Bob again so I would say to an a single person who's wondering I'd say left the Bible with all of its descriptions of the kind of person that a man should be your woman should be guide whom you admire who you feel affection for what the Bible shape the kind of person you will be drawn to. But don't burden yourself with being God trying to discern whether there some ideal person out there. She happened to be mission or northern India stood up and married a woman in London that's not going to have so we had a call and right now there's a guys was calling to say I married a nonbeliever. I'm a believer she's not coming or he's not coming to Christ.

I don't see that did enter the wrong one you married in a way that you shouldn't have married, and at that point you send you send in marrying a nonbeliever now.

The Bible really holds out the reality that marriage is marriage whether a person is a believer so Paulding first printing seven is crystal clear about whether you should walk into such a marriage, and with you should stay in such marriage and he says don't walk into it. But for unit stay those are both right there in verse 12. In verse 39 of first Corinthians 7 so it's a tricky question.

If he says did I married the wrong person. You have to help him formulate that question such that you can give biblical answer. Sometimes people ask questions and the way they pose the question, makes it impossible to give a biblical answer because it set it up wrong. They sent the categories wrong, but he seemed in marrying her is not a sin to be married to my friend who married someone who was in Bible College of the time and was passionate for the Lord and who three years later said I don't believe this anymore right she's wondering about the providence of God as she raises her three children persistently unbelieving spouse of prodigal kids are painful, a prodigal spouse, you know, I keep coming back to this principle that the providence that creates what we perceive is a problem is the same providence that gives you the grace and the power to sustain so in this case as she looks back in some bitter providence that her husband has for now. From the way the faith that the bitter, bitter province.

I use that phrase because that's when Ruth the book of Ruth is written as a bitter problem. Naomi had a bitter providence blocked if she were to sail. Kim done with God dome of that sovereignty stuff I'm doing that province stuff because look at the hand I've been dealt. If she did that become super children. What becomes of hope and I would say that the very power that let her husband go but might in fact bring him back because only providence can is the providence that will enable her to raise godly sons have one family particular member whose husband was snatched away like that which is which is cleaner than unbelief in divorce, but death when your kids are 12 and your 33 sons.

That's incredible. We mentioned a while ago.

She raised by herself. Three of the most godly, mature men I've ever known as prophets, and I'm just say to to this woman you feel right now. The boys ever turn out because they're dead skeptic he so C2 unbelief all the time.

He watches stuff on TV you don't want them watching how my regular raise these boys and my answers.

God is God and he has a grace month my God is able to supply all grace toward you. So that having all sufficiency in all things at all times. You may abound in every good work. You're a mom is called to do heroic things right now that you never signed up for good helps, he can bring your sons and guess what, ma'am, you can have a perfect family where the yeah I'm sitting here thinking I am that son someways the providence of God, as my dad walked out with women and alcohol my single mom in the 60s held onto God in here I am that I'm a sinner saying I'm the most is a less glorious is God's providence raised a man of God from situation.

You would think it doesn't happen. God did that absolutely you and he can do it for you you that just draw out an implication from that story. That's the way Paul talks in first Timothy Wong about his conversion. He said I was the chief of sinners, because I persecuted the church but that one so that God might reveal his perfect patience in me for those who would to believe on him to think through what would he say God permitted in his design to let Paul be a Christian killer. He breathed out murderers and through Christians in prison will discuss design. One of it was. Paul said to show that when I got saved got saved by God would show if he would show that much mercy and patience to a Christian killer. Then you talking with me right now in Pizza Hut over this pizza about Jesus and you think you've seemed too much to be saved or that your parents didn't set it up so that you have any chance of real faith in obedience. That's not true because look at Paul's life.

Look at Dave's life.

I'm curious.

We listen to you and we all admire so many things that one of the things I've always loved is your passion for God, your love for him. It just spews out of every pore of your being. How is that developed what is it look like in your time alone with him how he developed at great independency I can and I can talk about kinds of things that I do to fight the fight of faith, but I think I have very little control over who I am, in terms of what comes out of me spontaneously. I think the Lord is enabled me to fight battles to protect myself from crazy life and marriage and ministry, destroying sins, but inside there.

I feel that way because you know when I was little sigh from the age 12 to 20.

I had such struggles with insecurity and I was isolated I was alone I was introspective and I couldn't speak in front of a group. I hated my teenage years. It look like this kid is going nowhere. My sense is God was making a preacher meaning he made me pretty miserable and what I did with my misery. What God calls me to do it. My misery was goat in a row poetry.

I listen to trains on Pine Mountain far away thinking I like to be in the strangest go away. Include who decides that who decides that whether you should have so much acne you don't think a girl could ever like you when you can speak of a group if you like an idiot when they nominate you for class representative in your Junior set can't because I think of the three minute speech. Who does that. So I think I think the answer is God just does what he does is for shaping the depths of a person's soul.

Might my job. I think now is to keep myself, keep yourself in the love of God. Jude says while you do that. So this morning asked. I use an iPad got up I was in my hand. Your paper Bible. I read for five chapters the Bible every day I take an hour, I turn it all into prayer I cry out for Wi-Fi cloud from a sons I cry out for desiring God's Bethel Baptist Church bathroom college and seminary are praying these concentric circles. The biggest sinner I know is John Piper my the one that's most vulnerable to falling away and becoming discouraged in hopeless is me some praying a lot about me. That's my that's my warfare strategy and then I have two guys that I meet with and do they know everything I know, and I share everything with him yesterday morning we were on the zoom is to do but assume you student person and we pour our hearts each other and pray earnestly for each other. We've seen God do wonders in each other's lives. So I have some strategies but but I don't think those strategies make us who we are, but they protect us from being deceived into unbelief that investment of your time. We are the beneficiaries of it because books like this about providence can't come out of the life that is not set apart the way you have chosen to set apart your life and we are grateful. Thank you. As the beneficiaries.

Grateful for the time you spent with us this week and for what we have here. I hope our listeners will take advantage of this resource that you are provided this gift you're giving to the body of Christ. This new book providence.

It's a book we got in our family life today resource Center you can order from us or you can call to order 1-800-358-6329 is the number one 800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today. This is a book that will help you understand the goodness of God in the midst of hard circumstances and help you know how to think rightly about God when life gets hard again. The book is called providence, you can order from us or call or call 800-358-6329 to order at 800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today. Now if you have not checked your calendar recently.

You might want to check it. Valentine's Day is right around the corner and we don't want you to be caught empty-handed. When Valentine's Day gets here that David Robbins is the present family life and he is here with us today and Dave and our team has been working hard on a resource that is it's a date. Box called dates to remember. It's designed to help couples have some purposeful and intentional conversations about their marriage.

Valentine's Day can be in a launch point for a series of dates you can do together but the purpose of this date boxes about more than one romantic evening together. There is something bigger at work here yet. Throughout the decades of family life. One of things we have been known for is a trademark of this ministry is creating intentional moments for couples and for families to process the next layer together and I think one of the best things about this date boxes. If you have a lot of fun with that.

There's some fun great moments, but it takes you into that next layer. It takes you beyond what you would talk about when you're when you're just going on a date night out to dinner, which is a beautiful thing. Please keep those rhythms go for that. Keep it going, but sometimes we just need that little kick started to get to the next level to get to the next layer to to grow in emotional and spiritual intimacy that that increases our physical intimacy as a result, I think this date box is a great tool to get past a few layers of the onion aware we get stock and to grow in deeper intimacy and a really unintentional moment and and that's what the date boxes all about. So I hope listeners will check it out, go to our website family like you can order it from us online or you can call to order. If you have any questions about it. Call one 800 FL today. This is a great resource for you to have with her Valentine's Day was coming or not to be spending time building in your marriage again. Check it out go to family life to or call one 800 FL today and tomorrow are going to talk about the kind of regular marriage maintenance.

All of us ought to be doing. What are some habits or disciplines. We need to integrate into the schedule of our lives will talk more about that with Ron deal and Chris will be here as well. You can join us on think our engineer today key points along with our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson about the pain signal back tomorrow for another edition of family life today. Family life to is a production of family life of Little Rock, Arkansas. Accrue ministry help for today hope for tomorrow

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