God has a vocation! We confess it with these words from Luther’s explanation to the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; … and still preserves them; that He richly and daily provides me with food and clothing, home and family, property and goods, and all that I need to support this body and life” (ELH, p. 32). Through His unfailing love toward us sinners and the faithful keeping of His promises, we have been blessed with more than we need. During the new year, we should thank God for His many blessings of 2013 and trust Him to continue to help us each day.
The children of Israel experienced God’s direct providence. As they traveled in the wilderness for 40 years, God supplied over two million people with manna, quail, and water. God also supplied the widow of Zaraphath, her son, and Elijah with food during a three-year famine. However, most people receive God’s providence through the vocations and efforts of the people around them.
Through the skills, learning, experience, and wealth of others, God works to provide the things that we need. God hides His providence behind the vocations of others! This truth has two consequences. First, God blesses people with a purpose in life. In God’s providence, no human life is without purpose—some are given the purpose of being objects of our help and love. Second, because God’s work is hidden, many people boast in themselves or thank people or the state for their blessings. Instead, we are to believe God’s Word and thank God for His providence.
Because God works through the vocations of all people, this also means that He gives each one of us vocations so that we can be a blessing to our families and serve our neighbors in the love of God. We are to realize that God has given everyone many vocations—husband, wife, child, citizen, pastor, teacher, employer, employee. God also gives us skills, interests, and experiences so that we can pursue our vocations in the workplace.
In our lifetimes, we may have several different “jobs.” Through each one, God calls us to carry out His will as we provide goods and services to others. Because of sin, our “jobs” will carry with them the griefs and troubles of this world, as God promised to Adam (Genesis 3:17–19). On the other hand, because our vocations come from God and we live in the forgiveness of Christ, our work becomes a service to God and our neighbor.
Consider the thousands of people and the many operations that are required to fill grocery stores with food and necessities. It is a tribute to the human planning and ingenuity in our economy that so many things are provided. However, we should never forget that God supplies the sun and rain for crops to grow, He gives people health and abilities to reap what was sown, He supplies the wisdom and understanding of His creation to use materials to warehouse and transport goods to the stores, and He provides us with vocations to earn money so that we can purchase what we need to live.
God’s vocation as our Provider is truly astounding. His providence, in spite of our sinful attitudes, is amazing. His love toward us in these material things should move us to worship Him and thank Him for providing us with forgiveness through Jesus and eternal life.
Theodore G. Gullixson
Editor, The Lutheran Sentinel