John Piper Devotional

Lincoln’s Providence

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)

Abraham Lincoln, who was born on this day in 1809, remained skeptical, and at times even cynical, about religion into his forties. So it is a most striking thing how personal and national suffering drew Lincoln into the reality of God, rather than pushing him away.

In 1862, when Lincoln was 53 years old, his 11-year-old son Willie died. Lincoln’s wife “tried to deal with her grief by searching out New Age mediums.” Lincoln turned to Phineas Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington.

Several long talks led to what Gurley described as “a conversion to Christ.” Lincoln confided that he was “driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I have nowhere else to go.”

Similarly, the horrors of the dead and wounded soldiers assaulted him daily. There were fifty hospitals for the wounded in Washington. The rotunda of the Capitol held 2,000 cots for wounded soldiers.

Typically, fifty soldiers a day died in these temporary hospitals. All of this drove Lincoln deeper into the providence of God. “We cannot but believe, that He who made the world still governs it.”

His most famous statement about the providence of God in relation to the Civil War was his Second Inaugural Address, given a month before he was assassinated. It is remarkable for not making God a simple supporter for the Union or Confederate cause. He has his own purposes and does not excuse sin on either side.

Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war might speedily pass away . . . .

Yet if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.

I pray for all of you who suffer loss and injury and great sorrow that it will awaken for you, as it did for Lincoln, not an empty nihilism, but a deeper reliance on the infinite wisdom and love of God’s inscrutable providence.

Encouragement

“With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.” Judges 16:16 (NIV)

The verse stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t like it. Not one bit. Here’s what happened.

Samson was God’s chosen man during a time when the judges ruled Israel. From birth, he was destined to liberate Israel from the Philistines. While Samson was incredibly strong in body, he was very weak in character. Among his character flaws was a fondness for Philistine women. One was named Delilah.

The Philistines saw Samson’s infatuation with one of their own as a pathway to discovering the secret to his supernatural strength. So each of the Philistine officials offered Delilah 1,100 shekels of silver to uncover his secret. Three times she begged him to reveal the source of his strength, and three times he lied to her.

Listen to her words, and imagine the tone. “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength” (Judges 16:15b, NIV).

Then comes the verse that stopped me in my tracks: “With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it” (Judges 16:16). Ouch.

Unfortunately, Samson told Delilah the secret. He just couldn’t take the nagging any longer. As a result, his enemies shaved his head, and his strength seeped out with each swipe of the blade. Samson lost his strength and eventually his sight and his freedom … all because he succumbed to the words of a nagging woman.

I don’t want to be that woman, and I know you don’t either. Praise God there’s another alternative! Prayer. The Bible says, The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16b).

After God created Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18, NIV). The original Hebrew word for “helper” is ezer — one who comes along to aid, assist or rescue. God didn’t create the woman simply because the man was lonely. He fashioned women with purpose, and one of our greatest opportunities is to be prayer warriors for our men.

Prayer is not a means to gain control over our husbands, to whip them into shape and make them the men we want them to be. Instead, prayer is a means of relinquishing control and asking God to shape them into the men He wants them to be. Prayer is the conduit which releases God’s power for our marriages.

So let’s put the nagging aside, and take a moment to pray for our husbands. If you’re single, pray over the important men in your life. Here are four areas to start with:

His Mind: Lord, I pray my husband will fix his thoughts on Jesus today. May he make Jesus the centerpiece of everything he believes and thinks. (Hebrews 3:1)

His Eyes: Prompt my husband to pay attention to what he looks at today. Keep him alert to the devil’s tempting tactics to draw his eyes to sin. Empower him to have restraint and show self-control by turning his eyes away from temptation, and thus escape the enemy’s trap. (1 Peter 5:8)

His Shoulders: Help my husband trust that You will supply all his needs according to Your glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Take away his burdens and worries, and replace them with confidence and peace.(Philippians 4:19)

His Feet: May Your Spirit guide my husband to walk in the way You have commanded him so he may live and prosper and prolong his days. Hem him in so he will not veer to the right or the left but will keep his feet on the path You have marked out for him. (Psalm 139:5 and Deuteronomy 5:33)

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to pray for your husband, but in Sharon Jaynes’ book, Praying for Your Husband from Head to Toeshe maps out 16 landmarks to help you consistently and effectively cover your husband in prayer. The 30-day prayer guide provides Scripture for each day along with corresponding prayers to target crucial areas of every man’s life.

Have you listened to our new podcast yet? The Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast features a biblically-based message for any girl, in any season. Click here to listen to the most recent teaching and subscribe so you never miss an episode!

CONNECT:
Looking for some romance ideas for Valentine’s Day? Click over to Sharon’s website for the free printable of 25 Ways to Romance Your Husband.

REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How have you seen prayer make a difference in your marriage, or another relationship with someone very close to you? Join the conversation, and share your thoughts in the comments!

© 2019 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Day 40: Read today’s devotional on Bible Gateway.

Genesis 46:1-27

When Jacob learns that Joseph is alive, he moves from Canaan to Egypt with his entire family.

On the Road Again

Read

So Jacob set out for Egypt with all his possessions. And when he came to Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father, Isaac. During the night God spoke to him in a vision. “Jacob! Jacob!” he called.

“Here I am,” Jacob replied.

“I am God, the God of your father,” the voice said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again. You will die in Egypt, but Joseph will be with you to close your eyes.”
(Genesis 46:1-4)

Reflect

God told Jacob to leave his home and travel to a strange and faraway land. But God reassured him by promising to go with him and take care of him.

God reminded Jacob of the covenant promise he had made to Abraham: He would be the father of a great nation (Genesis 15:1-6). While in Egypt, the Israelites did become a great nation, and Jacob’s descendants eventually returned to Canaan. Jacob himself never returned to Canaan, but God promised that his descendants would return. That Jacob would die in Egypt with Joseph at his side was God’s promise to Jacob that he would never know the pain of being lonely again. The book of Exodus recounts the story of Israel’s slavery in Egypt for 400 years (fulfilling God’s words to Abram in Genesis 15:13-16), and the book of Joshua gives an exciting account of the Israelites entering and conquering Canaan, the Promised Land.

God made several promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and he fulfilled them all, even though these men wavered in their faith from time to time and did not always live as they should. Fortunately, God’s actions in the world will be fulfilled with or without our cooperation. He has plans and will accomplish them—and God always keeps his promises.

Respond

Thank God for his love and guidance and ask him for faith to trust him more and for strength to do his will.

Bible Gateway

Bible Gateway