A Case for Uncertainty and Randomness in God’s Provision

A Case for Uncertainty and Randomness in God’s Provision March 28, 2024

Randomness and Uncertainty 

Picture if Uncertainty | Freepik

Uncertainty, one of the most famous but misunderstood ideas in physics, points to a fuzziness in nature, a fundamental limit to what can be known about the behavior of quantum particles. In Isaac Newton’s clockwork universe which covers macro particles, all things follow clear-cut laws on how to be and to move. Quantum theory, on the other hand, governs the deportment of the smallest scales of nature. It embodies an aspect of uncertainty, and a level of randomness in its prediction of the state of a micro system.

By dictionary definition, uncertainty, the “lack of sureness about someone or something”, is mooted as a mental state. It is basically a subjective, cognitive experience of human beings rather than a feature of the objective, material world. This experience is rooted in ignorance, and thus, uncertainty is simply the effect of lack knowledge, and in principle, can be reduced by gathering of more information. Yet, there do exist unknowables, things that are unpredictable irrespective of whether we have information or not.

Thus, uncertainty is basic to our universe, inherent to existence, and randomness is intrinsic to life and living per se. That these aspects are parts of God’s provision and providence is inevitable and inescapable!

God’s Creative Provision

God’s Creative Provision | Google Images

God created the earth and all life in it, providing for each species and kind, ensuring a harmony of existence by a natural ecological cycle of provision. He has put certain natural phenomena, such as the food chain, the water cycle, the wind system, and such like, to guarantee that no species proliferates at the expense of another. Only where there is some intrusion, especially by man, does this equation or pattern get disturbed. Otherwise, checks and balances are in place to nurture and safeguard life, as well as dealing with risks that occur through natural phenomena such as floods or earthquakes, and such like.

Take for example the elmination of wolves in the Yellowstone National Park as part of a policy to eradicate all predators, leading to an imbalance in the entire ecosystem. Elk populations surged, resulting in the overgrazing of willows and aspens. This loss of trees led to a decline in songbirds and the inability of beavers to build dams due to eroding riverbanks. Water temperatures also rose, which impacted cold-water fish.

There is no doubt whatsoever that God is indeed not only the Creator of this universe, but also its Provider. As evidenced in Gen 1 – 3, and all through the Bible, God is the true Sustainer of life on earth. Ps 104 especially showcases this, epitomizing His ability to care for all, from the least of His creatures, to the masterpiece of His handiwork, man. Verses 27-30 describe the beauty and glory of His protective care and provision: All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.

Million Dollar Question 

<a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/female-model-near-window-with-rain-drops_7412651.htm#fromView=search&page=1&position=12&uuid=2600b50e-8c90-4eb4-ab36-48cad1357377">Image by azerbaijan_stockers on Freepik</a>
Baffled and Uncertain | Freepik

When God is indeed the Source and Sustainer of all life, why then does His material care for His people seem to embody an aspect of vagrancy and uncertainty? The manner and timing of His provision do raise the question of why does God delay or deny when He knows our need. We are often not able to reconcile God’s love with God’s apparent randomness of provisional care. More so when the accompanying circumstances seem to tear us part, causing us immeasurable pain and loss.

Take the instance of Lazarus and his sisters who went through the traumatic experience of his illness and subsequent death. Jesus did come through to raise him from death, and exhibit His glory. Yet the season of sorrow faced by the family was real, and quite scary. Did the delay really help them is the question, more so when they are those who were His staunch allies and followers?

We tend to ask or think whether the loving God of the Bible is merely toying with His people, especially when we have poured our hearts out in prayer and supplication with loud crying! Is He playing with His kid’s emotions as well as their lives, and is He insensitive to our pain? Why does God seem to delay, and be insensitive to our plight, when He constantly reiterates that He loves us?

Mankind’s Default Disposition 

https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/jaisalmer-indian-state-rajasthan_3075213.htm#fromView=search&page=1&position=24&uuid=c49fc6fe-da7e-4bfd-a6ce-16c2c3aeb0a8Human settlement | Freepik

There is a reason behind God’s supply being indeterminate or uncertain, and not commiserate with the demand, the time of need, and the purpose of it. While uncertainty and randomness are built into the universe, human beings tend to long for uniformity and conformity. Most people are creatures of habit and prefer to have a plan or routine in place, and so, when things deviate from plans it can feel like losing control, contributing to increases in anxiety or stress.

Take the case of Babel, where the people came together to build a tower, after the cleansing by the flood, to prevent scattering. Or, the case in the New Testament, when the church began to cluster in community in Jerusalem itself. In both cases, rather than dispersing to the ends of the earth in order to spread and multiply, they wanted to cluster around and establish a name.

Human settlements embody four main functions, viz., protection, pooling economics, sharing natural resources, and socio-emotional connection. Human beings want security and stability in everything, not the least in provision (food, clothing, and shelter), opt for the known and reject any risk from the unknown.

God’s Dynamic Dealing

God is dynamic | Freepik

God, on the other hand, is quite dynamic and fluid, not in His character, but in His dealings, leadings, and interactions with mankind. His nature is immutable and unchangeable, which is why the Scripture declares that He is yesterday, today, and forever the same. This does give us security and stability in knowing that He is a sure constant in our lives, the anchor and the rock of our salvation. However, it is not the yardstick or norm in other aspects of His interaction with us, nor is it an indication of His concern for us, or a measure of His care for us.

Another reason for fluidity in God is related to the aspect of freewill in man, with the power of choice being bestowed on us as an inherent part of being made in the image of God Himself. No other creature or any other part of creation has received this unique and divine gift. This privilege sets us apart from all else and creates in us a higher dimension than any other living thing.

Seasons of nature, habits and habitat of flora as well as fauna, the passage of time as marked by the celestial bodies, all follow set rules and natural laws. They function like well-oiled machines, with clockwork precision and accuracy, unless they are thoughtlessly disturbed by mankind’s aspirations, and seemingly genius inventions or explorations. Yet, man and woman have not been so restricted, but have the freedom beyond the natural.

We have been endowed with a sixth senses, that enabled us to think and reason, feel and emote, decide and will, and act or be in particular way. We have the capacity to do and function as per our fancy or intention.

Accommodation births Uncertainty

Tapestry of life | Unsplash

God accommodates and incorporates all our choices and our own vagaries of decision making into a wholesome functioning of this world. He weaves our individual choices and the impacts of them into the fabric of daily life, so that it is beneficial, not just to us but to all and sundry too. We maybe individuals but each of our actions and reactions set in motion a chain of events, outcomes, and repercussions, both positive and negative.

Take the case of the choice Abraham made to take another wife, Hagar, as per the advice of his Sarah, as a means of fulfilling God’s promise to him of a progeny. He had a son Ishmael through her, and since he was not the promised seed, when his true heir Isaac was born, a perpetual rift was born between the wives, and subsequently the sons, a disagreement that is going on to this day!

Uncertainty is the result of having limited knowledge about an occurrence or event, making it difficult to control, plan, or predict a future outcome. To judge and condemn God based on our narrow circle of reference and limited resources of knowledge is indeed ridiculous, if not foolish. No one can understand or fathom Him or even box Him, for He is beyond our comprehension.

Apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome, quoting Isaiah: Who has known the mind of the Lord or been able to give him advice? That’s the other reason God’s care seems to incorporate randomness and uncertainty in His dealings with us. We need to allow Him to be God, and voluntarily choose to trust Him even when it is hard or impossible to do so.

Beauty of His Randomness

Beauty of randomness | Unsplash

Does this mean we have no right to question or baulk at His ways? Not at all, for one He is not a dictator but the epitome of love that operates in wisdom. For another, the Bible says that He remembers that we are but dust and doesn’t deal with us as we deserve. Moreover, uncertainty in provision gives space and place for diversity, while randomness leads to adaptability that triggers growth. Uncertainty is often associated with negative affect, but in some circumstances, it is associated with positive affect. God uses the means and ways of this world to bring change and transformation in us all, working the highs and lows into perfecting us.

God’s aim and intent for us is not for us to have a good life, but a restoration of His image in us. We were made in the image of God, but sin marred it so that the image became skewed and distorted. In Christ, the image has been restored in fact, yet it must be seen in reality, evident inwardly and outwardly. The Bible is clear that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, and so, God uses the opportunities in our daily life to refashion us into our original state. His will for us is not just happiness but holiness, and wholesomeness

God is on the Throne

Covid scene | Unsplash

Uncertainty is the result of having limited knowledge about an occurrence or event, making it difficult to control, plan, or predict a future outcome, which can often be distressing. Life is indeed transient and unpredictable, as a Stanford report declares, since the reality of our everyday existence is actually constant change, even when we wish that it would not be so. Random events can and do happen when we’re unprepared to deal with the fallout, as the year 2020 and the covid crises prove.

However, this uncertainty and randomness in God is not the same as what people define as fate or chance. The latter give rise to passive acceptance and helpless resignation to events and things. The former, on the other hand, invite active trust and implicit faith in the wisdom and care of God Who is love. In Him is no evil or any deviousness or any thoughts of abuse or victimization.

The Bible says in the book of Jeremiah that the plans He has for us is for our good and not evil. In Him is no darkness, nor any thoughts if revenge or retribution. He is Sovereign and Supreme, knows the end from the beginning. He invites us to place ourselves under His rule and authority.

Blessed are we, if we learn and live by trusting in Him fully, without reserve, no holds barred. As His children, and partners together, we need fear no uncertainty or randomness, whatsoever!

*A good followup article: God’s Way of Provision defies Reason and Logic


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