Have you ever read a book that became part of your story? What I mean is, have you ever read a book that changed and shaped you? Since I was a kid, hundreds of books have cycled on and off my nightstand or, more recently, my Kindle®. But only a few of those books have left deep lasting impacts. In the realm of Christian books The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, Knowing God by J.I. Packer, and The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan rank among those. These books changed the way I thought and spoke of God and His Word. In 2023, I added another book to the list of books that have shaped my understanding of God, increasing my joy in what He has done for me and in the world through Christ. 2023’s Book of the Year is Providence, by John Piper.

John Piper is known as a preacher who is “all in” on the sovereignty of God. God’s sovereignty refers to God’s power over everything. God’s power, knowledge, and perfection mean He is in complete control. He rules over every molecule and soul in the universe. Sovereignty addresses the question of what is under God’s power and control. Providence addresses the question of why, and to what end and purpose does God work His power and rule over everything? Providence is about the purposeful sovereignty of God. I want to give you a brief outline of the book’s contents, as well as how it has borne fruit in my life since reading it.

The Book:

As you might expect, the task of explaining God’s purpose in all He does from eternity past to eternity future is no small task. John Piper takes over 700 pages to address the multifaceted jewel that is God’s work and purpose in all things. So, this may not be a book that you read cover to cover. However, the last section of a book is a vast index of topics and scripture references that help readers find the topic, text, or theme they want to explore and dive deeper into what God’s revealed purposes are. John Piper’s exploration of God’s purposeful sovereignty starts with what is revealed to us about His work in the pre-creation void of eternity past. Then he addresses the biblical narrative through creation, fall, the rise and decline of Israel, the work of Jesus and the Church. Finally, Piper ends with the revealed glory of the eternal perfection of the kingly rule of Jesus Christ and His bride the Church and some practical applications. Chapter titles include:

  • God’s providence in water, wind, plants, and animals
  • God’s providence in the ongoing existence of Satan
  • God’s providence in birth and death
  • God’s providence over sin
  • God’s providence in salvation

And that is just a handful of the 45 chapters which include over 3000 bible citations. This is not a philosophical book of “What if” or “Could God…?” questions that try to fill in what God has left a mystery. Providence shows us what God has revealed to us in the scriptures and what many of us are prone to overlook. We tend to fly by sentences like “and God appointed a fish (Jonah 1:17)” ignoring the larger implications of that claim. John Piper does his best to slow us down and brings readers face to face with the God of fish, stars, souls, and even life and death. This is a great reference book for anyone seeking to give Biblical answers to life’s hardest questions with the proper eye to how God has revealed His character and power.

The Fruit:

But a great table of contents does not a great book make. Why is this my book of the year? The answer is that it has changed the way I look at the world and the way I pray.

Providence put before my eyes the God who is intimately concerned and involved in every aspect of my life. From tears cried in the secret place, to the swirling of Jupiter’s stormy eye, God has purposed every moment of His creation to proclaim His glory and make His name known. And in Christ that means love, care, and concern for me as His child. God is present and purposeful in my life the same way He was present and purposeful in Joseph’s life. This leads to Joseph’s insightful revelation to his brothers that,

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” – Genesis 50:20

This sentence is only comforting if God has the power and wisdom to follow through on it. And Providence reveals a God who has all of that and more.

Secondly, Providence reminded me to look at the world around me with the eyes of a child who cannot help but ask, “Why?” Providence has opened a portal into “Elfland” as Chesterton puts it, and brings back a sense of wonder and worship to the world. Wonder in the rising and setting of the sun each day, to awe-filled terror at the mechanisms of war and sorrow across the globe. God did that. God is always at work for His glorious purposes. The answer to, “Why?” is always God.

Because of that, there are opportunities to witness and point to the fear and wonder of God everywhere. Everything has an explanation in God’s wonderful power and wisdom. That doesn’t mean we always like the answers, but the God who wielded Assyria like a club to judge His people Israel (Isaiah 10:5), is the God who rules over every bullet and shell in modern-day Israel. He cannot be thwarted and even in the darkness, God can be worshipped as sovereign and good. I am so thankful for a fresh vision of God to endure.

Finally, Providence has shaped the way I pray. If the God of the Bible is who He says He is, then the privilege of prayer is far greater than I often think. When Moses and Abraham pleaded with God to spare the enemies of God, they were stepping into the very counsel and courts of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who knows and controls everything – past, present and future –including the “could haves, would haves, and should haves. “Who can counsel God or know God’s mind?” Isaiah 40:13 asks. No one! Yet God listens and responds to His people. What an amazing privilege.

Praying in light of God’s providence also means I can joyfully worship and be thankful no matter how God answers my prayers. Whether yes, no, or not yet; I know that God is holy and good. Therefore, all His works in my life will be only holy and good even amid real sorrow and sin. We can pray like Jesus and say, “Not my will, but yours be done (Luke 22:42)” because God has revealed all things fall into line with His glorious purposes.

Reading the entirety of Providence might not be in everyone’s future. But if you have ever wrestled with the question of, “What is God up to?” Providence is a great reference guide to show you God’s goodness and power, whatever you face. I would recommend it to all.


Here are some notable quotables to give you a taste of what’s inside:

“I am inviting you into a world of counter-intuitive wonders… God is vastly greater and stranger and more glorious and more dreadful and more loving than we realize.” Pg. 17

“I would like to help as many as I can to know the God of all-embracing, all-pervasive, invincible providence. His Word is spectacularly full of knowledge of God’s ultimate goal. Cover to cover, it rings with the riches of his grace towards his undeserving people. Page after page tells the stunning story of the nature and extent of his providence. Nothing can stop him from succeeding exactly when and how he aims to succeed.” Pg. 25

“God’s self-exaltation is different from human self-exaltation in that, by exulting himself, he is not distracting us from what is ultimately satisfying, but displaying it and inviting us into the enjoyment of it.” Pg. 25

“God’s purpose in permitting our sin was to give his people the pleasure of seeing and savoring the glory of his grace in the inexpressible suffering and triumphs of his Son.” Pg. 164

“God’s ultimate aim is to be glorified in bringing about a new humanity – a Church, a bride of Christ, a people of God – who through Jesus Christ exist for the praise of the glory of his grace.” Pg. 188

“The world and even thousands of Christians give no praise and thanks to God for millions of daily, life-sustaining providences because they do not see the world as the theater of God’s wonders. They see it as a vast machine running on mindless natural laws,” Pg. 221

“God is sovereign over… suffering, which means it is not meaningless. It is not wrath. It is not ultimately destructive. It is not wanton or heedless. It is purposeful. It is measured, wise, and loving.” Pg. 655

God Bless and Happy New Year!

A Happy New Year to all, and may the God of all power, comfort, peace, and providence bless you as you seek and reflect on His glorious character and provision this year.

Contact Info

686 Black Road, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, P6A 0C8
705.254.2191 | Send Us a Message

View Map/Get Directions