What is providence? Here's a theological definition: Providence is the means by which God directs all things — both animate and inanimate, seen and unseen, good and evil — toward a worthy purpose, which means His will must finally prevail. Or as the psalmist said, "his kingdom ruleth over all" (Psalm 103:19). In Ephesians 1:11 Paul tells us that God "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." Our God is running the universe today, friends, even though there are some who think that it has slipped out from under Him.
There are three words we need to keep in mind before we can properly understand the providence of God in relationship to the material universe and to man in particular.
The first word is creation. We understand by "creation" that God, by His fiat word, spoke this universe into existence. The only way that you and I, certainly as Christians, will ever understand how this universe began is by faith. We understand that God brought this universe into existence, and the only way that we know this is by revelation. "...Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).
Then the second word is preservation. That's a tremendous word. It is by God's preservation that the universe is held together. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Christ "upholds all things by the word of his power." Colossians 1:17 says, "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." I think it is remarkable that we have a universe that runs like clockwork today. Who runs it? The Lord Jesus Christ runs the universe. He upholds all things by the word of His power.
The third word is providence. Providence is the way that God is directing the universe. He is moving it into tomorrow — He is moving it into the future by His providence. Providence means "to provide." God will provide. On Golgotha the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified. He was the Lamb that God provided. He was "the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
Providence means that the hand of God is in the glove of human events. When God is not at the steering wheel, He is the backseat driver. He is the coach who calls the signals from the bench. Providence is the unseen rudder on the ship of state. God is the pilot at the wheel during the night watch. As someone has said, "He makes great doors swing on little hinges." God brought together a little baby's cry and a woman's heart down by the River Nile when Pharaoh's daughter went to bathe. The Lord pinched little Moses and he let out a yell. The cry reached the heart of the princess, and God used it to change the destiny of a people. That was providence. That was the hand of God.
—From Edited Messages on Esther by Dr. J. Vernon McGee