Back in September I wrote a post about starting a new year of Sunday school. Yesterday was our last day, and while I’m ready for the summer break, I’m a little sad that it’s over. I love these kids. They’re funny and sweet, and they keep me on my toes. They’re bright and perceptive. I’ve listened to some of their observations and thought, “I’m teaching future elders, pastors, teachers, and Bible study leaders.” What a privilege!
All our lessons were about God’s providence. I remember looking through the opening pages of the teacher’s guide and knowing this would be a challenging theme to teach. Many adults have a hard time wrapping their minds around the deep theology of providence. How do you help nine-, ten-, and eleven-year-olds understand that all things are part of God’s sovereign plan? Some weeks were harder than others: If God is good, why do his children suffer? Do people have free will? If God is sovereign, why pray or tell the gospel? God’s providence is certainly a “big truth for young hearts,” and for some of these questions, the answers remain beyond our finite understanding. As Paul exclaimed, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his thoughts and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11.33).
Week after week we talked about God’s eternal attributes and his providence over nature, man’s will, evangelism, suffering, prayer, circumstances, and so on. At times I thought it was redundant and was concerned that the kids would lose focus or that they would see God as severe and cruel if we weren’t careful to talk about his love. What I failed to see was how often I need reminders of God’s providence. I need to hear and read about his sovereignty, faithfulness, wisdom, immutability, and love. I need the light of his grace, mercy, and righteousness shining into the dark areas of life in this fallen world (Psalm 112.4). After nine months of teaching, these lessons designed for upper elementary students have bolstered my trust in God and grown my love for him. As we moved through the lessons, digging through Scripture to find answers to profound questions, my students amazed me with the way they latched on to the truth. I hope their trust and love have grown, too.
Through the year, we built a definition of God’s providence, rooted in Scripture and ultimately in God’s character, that, to my heart’s delight, one student quoted from memory yesterday. I hope it sticks with them and with you.God is present and active in all his creation. His eye is watching, his hand is working to uphold and govern all creation to fulfill all his purposes for his glory and the good of his children. (from My Purpose Will Stand by Sally Martin, Children Desiring God)