Question 28: What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by his providence does still uphold all things?
That we may be patient in adversity; (a) thankful in prosperity; (b) and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, (c) that nothing shall separate us from his love; (d) since all creatures are so in his hand, that without his will they cannot so much as move. (e)
It is necessary that the doctrine of the creation of all things, and the providence of God should be known and held:
1. On account of the glory of God: for those that deny the creation and providence of God, deny also His attributes; and in doing this they neither magnify nor praise God, but deny Him. Therefore the doctrine of providence should be known that we may attribute unto God the glory of the power, wisdom, goodness and justice which appears in creating, preserving and governing all things.
2. On account of our consolation and salvation, that we may by this means be led, in the first place, to exercise patience in adversity; for whatever comes to pass by the will and counsel of God, and is profitable for us, that we ought patiently to bear. But all things, even those that are evil, happen by the counsel and will of God, and are profitable unto us. Therefore, we ought to bear these patiently, and in all things consider and recognize the fatherly will of God towards us.
Secondly, that in prosperity we may be thankful to God for the benefits received: for from whom we receive all good things, temporal as well as spiritual, great as well as small, to him we ought to be grateful. Now it is from God, the author of all good gifts, that we have all that we enjoy. Therefore we ought to be thankful to Him, that is, we ought to acknowledge and celebrate His benefits. For gratitude bases itself upon the will and justice of God; and so consists in acknowledging and celebrating His benefits towards us, and in making suitable returns for the same.
Thirdly, that we may entertain a good hope in regard to all things which may hereafter befall us, so as to rest fully assured that if God by His providence has so far delivered us out of past evils, He will also in future make all things subservient to our salvation, and never so desert us that we perish. In short, the ends of the doctrine of divine providence are: the glory of God — patience in adversity — thankfulness in prosperity, and hope in regard to future things.
From these things it appears that the whole truth of religion, and the very foundation of piety would be overthrown if the providence of God, as it has been defined and explained, be not maintained: Because,
1. We would not be patient in adversity if we did not know that these things are sent upon us from God our Father.
2. We would not be grateful for the benefits which we receive if we did not know that they are given to us from above.
3. We would not have a good and certain hope in relation to future things if we were not fully persuaded that the will of God, in regard to our salvation, and that of all His people, is unchangeable.
Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary On The Heidelberg Catechism, pp.163, 164