In his book, The Mystery of Providence, the seventeenth century Puritan John Flavel wrote a chapter on how grateful English believers should be for their birth and upbringing. In seeking to create gratitude in the hearts of his countrymen, Flavel has them reflect on the fact they could have been born in other places than cultured, privileged England.
Suppose your mothers had brought you forth in America, among the savage Indians, who herd together as brute beasts, are scorched with heat, and starved with cold, being naked, destitute and defenseless. How poor, miserable, and unprovided with earthly comfort and accommodations are many millions of the inhabitants of this world!
Just a few centuries ago, America was considered in the manner we think now of a Third World country.
Every time we drive down a paved road, open a refrigerator, answer a cell phone, turn up the thermostat during this cold streak, or hit another link on the internet, we should not marvel so much at the ingenuity of man and his technology but at God’s kind providence in allowing us these comforts.
We should also be warned by them. The very blessings the Lord has given in abundance can suddenly be taken away. Psalm 107:33-34 tell us, “He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants.”
As a land, the Lord is being far more providentially kind to us than we could ever deserve. This same Psalm, recounting the marvelous providential works of God, tells us what our response should be. “Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord” (Psalm 107:43).
In this light, Flavel encourages recording down God’s good providences in a personal way. Often writing down answers to prayers and ways the Lord has provided have helped my family and me to rejoice in His goodness and be at peace with our present situation. Why not take some time soon and record some of the great workings of God in your life? As Flavel says, “Certainly it were not so great a loss to lose your silver, your goods and chattels (possessions), as it is to lose your experiences which God has given you in this world.”