Written by David T. Crum |
Monday, February 20, 2023
Adhering to the Providence of the Lord protects you. It forces you to put yourself outside the situation and strongly submit to the Lord’s will. It often rocks our souls and challenges our thoughts, but the assurance it provides allows us to rejoice that we have a Savior who will care for us every step of the way, even into death.
When struck by friendly fire at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Stonewall Jackson remarked, “Why, gentlemen, be quiet. Don’t be bothered. If I live, it’ll be for the best, and if I die, it’ll be for the best. God knows and directs all things for the best for those whose trust is in Him, and my trust is in Him.”[i] Such a reaction should not surprise the reader if they know anything about Jackson and his faith. He firmly adhered to the Providence of God, knowing his life was in the hands of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
If one word summarizes Jackson’s theological beliefs, it is likely Providence. The general constantly wrote of the Lord’s will, ways, and sovereignty. He also reassured his men, when in battle, that they should have comfort in Divine Providence regardless of the outcome. Many theologians of his time taught similar concepts. William S. Plumer wrote, “Providence is the care of God over his creatures. God’s works of Providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.”[ii] He added, “To deny Providence is as truly atheistic as to deny God’s existence. One who neither sees, nor hears, nor knows, nor cares, nor helps, nor saves, is no God at all.”[iii]
You cannot appreciate the comfort and peace of God’s Providence if you do not know the Lord. Providence is the reason we have understanding; it accounts for the ability to ponder on the will of the Lord versus that of our fleshly desires. Granted, this concept of divine intervention or spiritual care is foreign to the unbeliever, but it lays the foundation of the faith for the faithful servant of Christ. The idea challenges our worldview and philosophical thought and provides eternal peace to believers like Jackson. On such peace, Archibald Alexander taught, “It is a sweet and gentle stream which flows from the fountain of life beneath his throne. Happy is he who has received this heavenly gift; it will, in the midst of external storms and troubles, preserve his mind in a tranquil state.”[iv] Undoubtedly, this is the peace Jackson felt when unaware of his fate. Struck three times and bleeding profusely, he maintained peace through comfort in his Providential Savior. It is easy to say that we accept complete Providence or submit to the sovereign will of God, but it is much more challenging to act in such a way when faced with such confusion and pain. However, with genuine belief and reliance on the Lord’s will, the heavenly peace Christ provides makes such unbearable situations possible to endure.
Adhering to the Providence of the Lord protects you. It forces you to put yourself outside the situation and strongly submit to the Lord’s will. It often rocks our souls and challenges our thoughts, but the assurance it provides allows us to rejoice that we have a Savior who will care for us every step of the way, even into death. Charles Hodge wrote, “The Bible no less clearly teaches that God exercises a controlling power over the free acts of men as well as over their external circumstances. This is true of all their acts, good and evil.”[v] He added, “All Christians believe that the hearts of men are in the hand of God, that He works in them both to will and to do according to His good pleasure.”[vi] We have comfort in our Lord, who oversees every good and bad situation. The mere idea of Providence requires the most sincere, earnest submission, relying strictly on the Lord in all of life’s affairs.
Upon his initial injury, Jackson survived surgery in which his arm was amputated, but a few days later he succumbed to death caused by infection and fever. In one of his last words to his wife, Anna, Jackson stated, “I know you would gladly give your life for me, but I am perfectly resigned. Do not be sad. I hope I may yet recover. Pray for me, but always remember in your prayers to use the petition, ‘Thy will be done.’ “[vii] The general died a short time later, noting he preferred to be in Heaven with his Savior.
The ways of the world challenge our minds and, if we allow it, confuse us daily on the purpose and meaning of life. Focusing on the Lord’s Providence grants us peace and protection. However, we must guard such thoughts and live in the Word and in prayer, focusing daily on the ways of the Lord. The Lord has blessed us with such an understanding; may we grow stronger in our desires to submit to Him and respect His will. May we pray for Providential understanding.
David Crum holds a Ph.D. in Historical Theology. He serves as an Assistant Professor of History and Dissertation Chair. His research interests include the history of warfare and Christianity. He and his family attend Trinity Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Bedell, New Brunswick.
[i] George Truett, “The Grace of Patience” (sermon, First Baptist Church of Dallas, Dallas, TX, November 29, 1942), http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/search/collection/fa-gwt.
[ii] William S. Plumer, Theology for the People Or Biblical Doctrine, Plainly Stated, (Harrisonburg: Sprinkle Publications, 2005), 78.
[iv] Archibald Alexander, Practical Truths, (Harrisonburg: Sprinkle Publications, 1998), 82.
[v] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1988),87.
[vii] Mary Anna Jackson, Life and Letters of General Thomas J. Jackson, (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1892), 100.