God's “most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions” (as the catechism call it) unfolds in various ways.
2 Kings 8:1-6 includes eight types. Categorisation helps us see providence is everywhere.
Elisha knew a lot about this; we know little, if anything. God can make rivers part, corpses rise, loaves multiply, iron float. Some reject miracles as too extraordinary. Deny extraordinary providences and you will soon reject ordinary ones.
Coincidences are fascinating. Gehazi talks of Elisha raising the Shunemite's son, when who enters but the very people! It is not a miracle but it is remarkable timing. Gone seven years, they reappear that very moment! What is the probability?
Coincidences are common but striking. Years ago in a rather remote Indian village with another young man, we bumped into a fellow student of his. Neither had realised the other would be in India that summer!
In 1930s Detroit, Joseph Figlock was walking down the street when a baby fell from onto him from above and he broke its fall. Both survived. Amazing in itself, a year later, exactly the same thing happened again!
Do coincidences prove anything? No, but they make you think. Perhaps God grabs our attention with them to show us that every event is part of his providence.
Some providences are delightful, some dark – famine, war, earthquake.. Here, Elisha warns of a long famine, no doubt because of Israel's sin. We do not always know why troubles come and rarely how long they will last.
This godly woman lives among godless Philistines. Some situations we would not choose - living with unbelievers, living in a certain city, a certain country. We must think twice about such situations but sometimes the unusual is right. This woman had good reason to live there.
Human justice is part of providence. “There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13). If treated unjustly we should usually not hesitate to seek redress. It is not failing to trust God but using the relief he supplies. It is right to help wronged believers.
Without Elisha's warning, what might have happened to the woman? Several proverbs urge listening (12:15 ... a wise man listens to advice). This applies to sermons. Listen to the preacher.
What happened in the past affects us. This woman's past kindness led to Elisha's concern. Elisha's past miracles made the king determined to get her justice. Try to learn from history. Its influence is pervasive.
The king helped the woman not just because she had a good case but because Elisha raised her son. That impressed itself on him so he made sure she got justice. Favouritism can be bad, the Bible warns against such. However, for reasons good and bad, we favour one over another. We must recognise the part it plays in life today, under God.
In 1658 Obadiah Sedgwick wrote of the need to depend on providence rather than worrying. He urged patience and contentment in general. In dark providences we must show acceptance. We must not be complacent but stir ourselves up to doing good. Always remember, God is in control.