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In the beginning, God created everything out of nothing (Genesis 1:1). Since then, he normally uses the means he built into creation. He could produce a million apples a day out of nothing, but prefers to use natural means instead. After he made the fish and the birds he said, Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth (Genesis 1:22). At first, God created animals according to their kinds (Genesis 1:25); ever since then, he uses the natural means he built into them.

God’s two ways of working can be understood as miracle and providence. Jesus healed many people miraculously, but God heals most people providentially. Small cuts normally heal through the means God built into the body. He may also use medicine, as well as doctors. This kind of healing is not technically miraculous, but providential.

Likewise, Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11), but it does not normally drop out of heaven. He normally gives us jobs to earn money, so we can buy bread from the market. When Jesus fed the multitudes with only five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:17), he was providing miraculously. More often he uses soil, sun, rain, farmers, bakers and merchants to provide.

When we understand that God works providentially, not just miraculously, we will see his kindness in every plate of food, every healing, and every other need he meets. Miracles still occur (Psalm 77:14), of course, but God is always working providentially. Miracle and providence, we could say, are the right and left hands of God.