Giving Thanks for Providence

Autumn here in Italy is a special time of year, one of my favorites! In small towns, like ours, the scent of wood smoke floats in the crisp, clean air. Grapes ferment into fine wines. And olives, pressed into green gold, glisten in their bottles.

But as an American, my thoughts turn to Thanksgiving. Although with our kids grown and moved and Hubby at work, we no longer ‘celebrate’ the holiday. I still consider it the greatest “American” holiday!

We have so much to be grateful for. For all that has happened and all that the Lord has done. And for all that might have happened but never did. Day by day and year by year, we’ve seen his provision and care – and his Providence.

God’s Providence

We’ve seen his Providence in the good times and the bad.

In the film Anne of Green Gables,  Matthew Cuthbert said it was a lucky mistake that the orphanage sent them Anne. And not the boy they wanted. But his sister Marilla responded, “It wasn’t luck. It was Providence. He knew we needed her.”

Curious, as I’d never thought of it before, I looked it up. “What,” I wondered, “is the difference between provision and Providence?” And I learned that this seldom used word makes all the difference in the world.

Provision is having your basic needs met, and it’s a wonderful thing. But Providence reaches so much deeper. Provision can come from any source. And with diligent work and prudence, we can even become the source of our own provision.

Only God supplies providence

But Providence is a supply that can only come from the hand of God.

It indicates God’s special care and guidance. And his foresight in directing the affairs of the universe or his benevolent care of us.

It’s God doing what only he can do. Providing what only he can provide. Preventing what only he can prevent. And like with the Cuthberts, sending not what we want, but what he knows we need.

Chills run down my spine thinking about that scene. “He knew we needed her.” I’ve experienced many such moments in my life, and I’m sure you have too. Times when we’ve clearly seen the hand of God at work. Knowing what only he could know, doing what only he could do.

Discerning providence

But how can we discern Providence even in troubled times?

The world faces troubled times of war and death, sickness and poverty. With evil coming out more strongly every day. How can we see God at work in a world gone so wrong? And learn to give thanks in such times?

King David knew such fear and trouble. Scholars believe that he penned many of his Psalms while in exile, driven out and abandoned. Including the well-known Psalms 23 and 27.

His own son had seized the throne. Enemies chased and threatened on every side. Yet even those Psalms overflow with thanksgiving, gratitude, and trust.

For David knew God’s Providence. He had seen the Lord protect him and keep him safe, even in impossible circumstances. And he had learned that the Lord is a safe shelter DURING the storm, a strong fortress THROUGH times of distress. A hiding place IN a world gone wrong. He knew that even if all others abandoned him, the Lord wouldn’t. So he sang songs of praise and declared that he always would.

Don’t forget to thank the Lord for his Providence. That special provision, care, and guidance that can only come from God’s hand.

So will you give thanks this year for God’s magnificent gift of Providence – past, present, and future?

Remember: He always knows exactly what we need!

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 CSB

Images: Pumpkins by Pamjpat | Man praying by Matheus Bertelli | Gift by Alizee Marchand.

20 replies on “Giving Thanks for Providence”

Oh yes, Karen, God is always faithful. No matter how dark things seems. And yes, I am feeling much better. Both the orthopedic doctor and the therapist say that I’m at a great point, thank the Lord. He is so good!


Amen, my friend! With more than a few decades behind me now, I can see God’s providence at work in my life on a number of occasions. My heart does fill with gratitude and joy for the ways he’s provided, guided, and given me what I needed, not necessarily what I wanted. With the psalmist I praise God: “You make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.”


“Empty nesters” ourselves, my wife and I don’t get crazy with entertaining for the “big three” (Easter, Thanksgiving, & CHRISTmas), but we still recognize them. Often with a simple meal, and just as often with another couple or close friends with no place else to go. So enjoyed your post Sra.


Sounds like our holiday celebrations, JD. It just doesn’t make sense to me to go crazy cooking more food than the two of us can eat. We usually share the meal with another couple too, or a few close friends. Unless, of course, we’re invited to their house. The big 3 are special and so meaningful, but we prefer our new, simpler way of celebrating them!


Thank you! And you’re right, we do tend to overlook God’s providence. By his great love and mercy he provides exactly what we need – not always what we want!


Sheila, Thank you for this post. I had never considered the difference between provision and providence. Thank you! I’m glad that you’re remembering all that you are thankful for even though the holiday is not in Italy. I’m glad that you are celebrating and giving thanks in your heart. Many blessings to you both. Karen


Thanks Karen, neither had I. But I was so blessed over the discovery. And guess what? This year we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. A younger missionary couple in our church fixes a huge meal. They’re young and energetic. It’s an outreach activity, and we usually have about 60-70 people in attendance. We, along with many other helpers, will be going to give a hand with preparations on Saturday and praying that many guests will have their hearts touched by God’s great love!

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Oh my what extreme Providence he has shown to me this past year. God has been amazing in my life and I thank you for clarifying between provision and Providence. It is indeed Providence that he has had on me and my wife as we battle this cancer. He has been so merciful to me. We serve an awesome God


Oh Pete, I didn’t realize that you and your wife are battling cancer. That’s tough. It’s in such times that we need to really understand God’s providence, isn’t it? Our omnipotent and omniscient God knows just what to send or not send, even in the midst of our pain and suffering. I’m so glad you have found his mercy and providence enough to see you through, and i rejoice with you!


Thank you Sheila. It has been an incredible journey and God has Draw Me Closer to his side than I ever been through this battle with cancer. My wife has been an amazing caregiver. God has been very merciful to me.


That’s a great testimony Pete. But I especially like how you say that he has drawn you closer to him. So often we hear “God has drawn closer to me in this.” As though God had gone somewhere. He’s always been right there with us, still is, and always will be. We just lose track of him sometimes. Good to see you counting your blessings with your faithful wife by your side! God is good!


Yes God truly is awesome and so is his providence! How wonderful that you have seen it throughout your cancer ordeal. I too have seen it during these months since my fall down the stairs and surgery. It is particularly in such times that we need to remind ourselves that really is in full control of everything! He is so good!


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