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Alistair Begg on the Providence of God

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Dear Friend,

A few days ago, I awoke with the lyrics of a seldom-sung hymn, “Though Troubles Assail,” at the forefront of my mind. Hymns are a frequent companion, and relevant lyrics often rise to the surface without much conscious thought.

This leads me to wonder: If I had lived in a different place or time, would I instead have been fascinated by something else, like science or astronomy? If so, might I have found myself awakening to thoughts of the periodic table of elements or the movement of the spheres? In God’s providence, my path was chosen. My brief interest in physics and chemistry began and ended when the contents of the chemistry set I received as a Christmas gift spilled and spoiled the eiderdown on my bed. Years afterward, my school report card contained this memorable line written by my teacher: “Alistair has decided that physics is not for him, and he is very firm in his decision.”

But I digress.

“Though Troubles Assail” was one of some 280 hymns written by John Newton. He was the one-time slave-trading captain whom God converted and who later became an Anglican minister. His conversion should be a tremendous encouragement to every parent who is tempted to stop praying for a wandering son or daughter. God guided Newton through many storms and dangers, enabling him to testify to the Lord’s amazing grace.

Here, then, are some lines from the hymn:

Though troubles assail,
And dangers affright;
Though friends should all fail,
And foes all unite,
Yet one thing secures us,
Whatever betide:
The Scripture assures us,
“The Lord will provide.”

The events of recent weeks have caused me to rest on the providence of God. It is a humbling privilege to enter into the joys and sorrows of each other’s lives. As a pastor, I have a unique vantage point, in that when I look out upon the congregation, I realize that some are sick, and some are sad, and some have never loved God well, and some seem to have lost the love they once had. We are all in need of the reminder to “bear one another’s burdens” and, in doing so, to reflect the love of Christ.

Whatever circumstances we are facing, as I write and you read this letter, let’s remind one another that “the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” It doesn’t always seem so, but it is so. Again I am reminded of these comforting words: God’s providence is a soft pillow. May our souls find rest in Him alone.

With my love in the Lord Jesus,



Associate AI Pastor
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