B. Concurrence God cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do. This second aspect of providence, concurrence is an expansion of the idea contained in the first aspect, preservation. In fact, some theologians (such as John Calvin) treat the fact of concurrence under the category of preservation, but it is helpful to treat it as a distinct category. In Ephesians 1:11 Paul says that God “accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will.” The word translated “accomplishes” (e)nerge/w, G1919) indicates that God “works” or “brings about” all things according to his own will. No event in creation falls outside of his providence. Of course this fact is hidden from our eyes unless we read it in Scripture. Like preservation, God’s work of concurrence is not clearly evident from observation of the natural world around us. In giving scriptural proof for concurrence, we will begin with the inanimate creation, then move to animals, and finally to different kinds of events in the life of human beings. 1. Inanimate Creation. There are many things in creation that we think of as merely “natural” occurrences. Yet Scripture says that God causes them to happen. We read of “fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!” (Ps. 148:8). Similarly, To the snow he says, “Fall on the earth”; and to the shower and the rain “Be strong.”... By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn round and round by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. Whether for correction, or for his land, or for love, he causes it to happen. (Job 37:6-13; cf. similar statements in 38:22-30) Again, the psalmist declares that “Whatever the LORD pleases he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps” (Ps. 135:6), and then in the next sentence he illustrates God’s doing of his will in the weather: “He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses” (Ps. 135:7; cf. 104:4). God also causes the grass to grow: “You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth” (Ps. 104:14). God directs the stars in the heavens, asking Job, “Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?” (Job 38:32 NIV; “the Bear” or Ursa Major is commonly called the Big Dipper; v. 31 refers to the constellations Pleiades and Orion). Moreover, God continually directs the coming of the morning (Job 38:12), a fact Jesus affirmed when he said that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). 2. Animals. Scripture affirms that God feeds the wild animals of the field, for, “These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. When you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed” (Ps. 104:27-29; cf. Job 38:39-41). Jesus also affirmed this when he said, “Look at the birds of the air...your heavenly Father feeds them” (Matt. 6:26). And he said that not one sparrow “will fall to the ground without your Father’s will” (Matt. 10:29). 3. Seemingly “Random” or “Chance” Events. From a human perspective, the casting of lots (or its modern equivalent, the rolling of dice or flipping of a coin) is the most typical of random events that occur in the universe. But Scripture affirms that the outcome of such an event is from God: “The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly from the LORD” (Prov. 16:33). 4. Events Fully Caused by God and Fully Caused by the Creature as Well. For any of these foregoing events (rain and snow, grass growing, sun and stars, the feeding of animals, or casting of lots), we could (at least in theory) give a completely satisfactory “natural” explanation. A botanist can detail the factors that cause grass to grow, such as sun, moisture, temperature, nutrients in the soil, etc. Yet Scripture says that God causes the grass to grow. A meteorologist can give a complete explanation of factors that cause rain (humidity, temperature, atmospheric pressure, etc.), and can even produce rain in a weather laboratory. Yet Scripture says that God causes the rain. A physicist with accurate information on the force and direction a pair of dice was rolled could fully explain what caused the dice to give the result they did—yet Scripture says that God brings about the decision of the lot that is cast. This shows us that it is incorrect for us to reason that if we know the “natural” cause of something in this world, then God did not cause it. Rather, if it rains we should thank him. If crops grow we should thank him. In all of these events, it is not as though the event was partly caused by God and partly by factors in the created world. If that were the case, then we would always be looking for some small feature of an event that we could not explain and attribute that (say 1 percent of the cause) to God. But surely this is not a correct view. Rather, these passages affirm that such events are entirely caused by God. Yet we know that (in another sense) they are entirely caused by factors in the creation as well. The doctrine of concurrence affirms that God directs, and works through the distinctive properties of each created thing, so that these things themselves bring about the results that we see. In this way it is possible to affirm that in one sense events are fully (100 percent) caused by God and fully (100 percent) caused by the creature as well. However, divine and creaturely causes work in different ways. The divine cause of each event works as an invisible, behind-the-scenes, directing cause and therefore could be called the “primary cause” that plans and initiates everything that happens. But the created thing brings about actions in ways consistent with the creature’s own properties, ways that can often be described by us or by professional scientists who carefully observe the processes. These creaturely factors and properties can therefore be called the “secondary” causes of everything that happens, even though they are the causes that are evident to us by observation. 5. The Affairs of Nations. Scripture also speaks of God’s providential control of human affairs. We read that God “makes nations great, and he destroys them: he enlarges nations, and leads them away” (Job 12:23). “Dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations” (Ps. 22:28). He has determined the time of existence and the place of every nation on the earth, for Paul says, “he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:26; cf. 14:16). And when Nebuchadnezzar repented, he learned to praise God, For his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing; and he does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What are you doing?” (Dan. 4:34-35) 6. All Aspects of Our Lives. It is amazing to see the extent to which Scripture affirms that God brings about various events in our lives. For example, our dependence on God to give us food each day is affirmed every time we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11), even though we work for our food and (as far as mere human observation can discern) obtain it through entirely “natural” causes. Similarly, Paul, looking at events with the eye of faith, affirms that “my God will supply every need” of his children (Phil 4:19), even though God may use “ordinary” means (such as other people) to do so.