The Kind Providence of God

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

In 2012, I began praying that the Lord would open a door for the gospel in North Korea. Soon after, I heard of an opportunity to teach nursing school in Pyongyang. Even better, all of the classes were to be taught in English. In 2015, I started a PhD program in order to eventually teach at that school. I even visited North Korea two weeks before my wedding and met with people over that future program. What felt at times like an absurd prayer became almost a certainty in the course of a few years. God was moving and working and I was on a trajectory to finish up school and move to North Korea with my family. Fast forward to 2020, about a year before I was to finish my PhD program, God slammed the door shut to North Korea. No Americans in or out of the country. And here I want to highlight the kind providence of God.

My wife and I had been praying that God would totally unite our hearts on where He wanted us to be when God shut that door. Here I was finishing a very difficult degree, and now the whole reason I was seeking that degree in the first place was off the table. I am a living proverb: I had a plan, but God was directing my steps. Skip ahead to today, and now I have a doctorate, I am teaching nursing in Mississippi, and I have no concrete plans to move overseas. This is so different than what I had envisioned for myself 10 years ago, but I am confident that I am where I am (and when I am) because God has directed my steps. And He is doing this in obvious ways and less than obvious ways all the time.

God is directing our steps when everything works out exactly as we planned it, and God is directing our steps when things go sideways and nothing makes sense. I recently put a lot of money in fixing our family van. A few weeks ago, someone rear-ended me, and I got a call today saying that the car was totaled. Did God miss something, or is He kindly guiding and directing my steps in ways that I don’t understand? I’ll admit, I don’t know why God has done this. I don’t know why the Lord shut the door to North Korea. But I know that it was Him who did these things. And how good is it that God does not merely establish our plans, but He establishes our steps. I’d rather have a totaled van in Mississippi within the plan of God than any other alternative without Him.

I began writing this thinking I could make heads or tails of my current situation, but I’ve realized in writing that I’m still not sure why God has led me to this place. And I’m ok with that. I have made decisions and ordered my life in a certain way, and God is placing me exactly where He wants me. I have confidence that nothing is wasted with Him, even when I don’t understand. Oh Lord, continue to direct my steps.

© Jacob Crouch 2023

3 thoughts on “The Kind Providence of God

  1. It seems to me that God rarely lets us know why he redirects our paths. And that’s okay. He’s God, and he wants us to trust him completely.


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