Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
There was once a time in this nation that hearing someone say “Lord willing” was commonplace. Today, the phrase is almost nonexistent. We are oblivious to God’s absolute control in everyday affairs. How many times have our plans been rearranged? How often has the unexpected turned our lives upside down. Yet, in spite of the frequency of our upheavals, we talk about our plans as if they are definitive. We encourage such assertiveness, and label it as a quality to be desired; however, the Lord calls it what it is–arrogance! Simply put: “All such boasting is evil.”
Just how much is God in control? He’s so much in control, that a better word for “chance” would be “providence”! A common way to make decisions in ancient times was to cast lots. We might refer to the practice as “rolling the dice” in our day or perhaps accomplish the same thing by flipping a coin. Pr 16:33 reveals the greatness of God by His directing of such games of chance: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” We see this truth in practice in the book of Jonah as the mariners cast lots to determine who had so offended the gods as to bring such a horrific storm upon them. Jon 1:7 says, “So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.” The one, true God was in control of where the lot fell!
Some of you may be willing to let God oversee chance, but what about choice? The book of Proverbs deals with that topic as well. Consider the following:
The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. (Pr 16:1)
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. (Pr 16:9)
There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand. (Pr 19:21)
Man in his heart makes his own plans, but God is in control of the outcome! We can spend all day planning the smallest details of our schemes, but we will never override the providence of God. This truth really disturbs some people, but it should be a great source of comfort to you, Christian! How else can God promise to work all things for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28) unless He establishes the boundaries of every creature’s actions? From the smallest to the greatest, God is in control. Have you ever had someone with authority over you who’s will was set against you? Even if you were living in a monarchy and the one who stood against you was the king himself, Pr 21:1 reminds us, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” Yes, God is that much in control! So, in the words of our Lord Jesus, “Do not be afraid; only believe…” (Lk 8:50)