It’s been years since I posted a “jargon of the redeemed” piece, so why not tackle this peculiar expression? I recall it uttered in Sunday morning prayer as a youngster at the Lee Hill Mission when Brother Neelus was called upon to lead. Inevitably and invariably, at some point in his prayer, he prayed something like this:
“And Lord, bless those who are not here this morning because they are providentially hindered.”
As a youngster, I was fascinated by the diction: five syllables in providentially comprised such an impressive sounding word, and on top of that, modifying such a vivid verb as hindered! But what does it mean?
Well, the root of providentially is providence, a classic synonym for God. Hindered, the past tense of hinder, suggests the connotation of bothered, disturbed. or interfered with.
So, if one is providentially hindered, he must be bothered or held up or disturbed by God? How does that play out at church?
Brother so-and-so missed services today. When accosted by Sister so-and-so, he explains, “God impressed me so strongly with the allure and beauty of nature that I just had to go fishing to experience creation. I was truly hindered by providence”–ergo, providentially hindered.
The following week, sister so-and-so missed the service. When accosted by Brother so-and-so, she replied, “God convicted me of neglecting my children during the week, so we went on a family outing at the mall. It broke my heart not to attend church, but I had to honor God’s conviction”–ergo, providentially hindered.
Hmmmmm . . . why would God put hindrances in peoples’ way of doing the right thing?
If you ask me, providentially hindered is just another excuse. And what is an excuse? “The frailest of human inventions.”
The point: How dare we blame God for our frailty!