Published on September 3, 2021 by Kristen Padilla  
Sweeney Opening Convocation

“Christian trust in God’s providence is on the wane today,” began Douglas Sweeney, dean of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, in his Fall 2021 opening convocation address on Aug. 31.

“Deep faith that God is sovereign over history, past and present—and even over our daily lives—has fallen on hard times,” he said. “Some remember what the apostle Paul said in Romans 8: ‘we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.’ But in the midst of Covid-19, racial sin, the culture wars, hurricane season, countless international crises and the everyday grind of our ever-busy lives, we do not often trust very fully in this promise.”

Sweeney’s message, “God Meant It for Good,” was the first in a series of sermons to be given at Beeson Divinity this semester for its chapel series: “Tokens of the Providence of God in Times of Trouble.”

“In chapel this fall, we’ll encourage one another to believe these things, and to act like we do, as we examine some of the tokens of God’s faithfulness in Scripture,” said Sweeney. “We will help one another to count our present trials joy by reminding one another of the providence of God in our everyday lives. By delving into texts that inspire us with the sovereignty of God over history and instruct us to encourage one another with the tokens of his providential care, we will strengthen one another to live more faithfully, hopefully and lovingly today.”

Preaching from Genesis 50:15-21, Sweeney reminded those in attendance of what Joseph said to his brothers who had sold him many years ago into slavery: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Sweeney asked: “Do you believe this?”

“I’m here to tell you that today we serve the very same God—the God of Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Joseph—and that this one, true God is the Lord of all of history, even of your history.”

He concluded: “My brothers and sisters at Beeson, let’s live every moment as if it really were from God. As we do, God will use the good and bad of our daily lives as part of his cosmic, saving history of redemption.”

Prior to Sweeney’s address, Beck Taylor addressed the divinity school community for the first time since becoming Samford’s 19th president this summer, welcoming them to the university’s 180th academic year.

“I’m so encouraged by how this community lifts up the name of Jesus Christ,” Taylor said. “Nowhere on this campus is that faithfulness to Christ more evident than here at Beeson Divinity School. For you new students who are here this morning: you are joining an amazing family of faith and learning.”

Watch Sweeney’s address here.

Attend Beeson Divinity’s weekly worship services on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. in Hodges Chapel or watch live

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.