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the whole world in his handsHow are things working out for you? All right? Or are you in some way dissatisfied? Do you feel in control of your life, or rather lost and helpless and indignant at all the injustice and grief in the world? If some people think they see a clear pattern of events around them, evidence of a Divine purpose, there are many others who can see no such thing, and despair of doing so.

Could it be, though, that there is 'a scheme of things', vaster than we can yet grasp? A power concerned for the whole universe, the depths of our inner nature, and reaching far into the future (or, "focussing on what is infinite and eternal" as Emanuel Swedenborg puts it in his book Divine Providence)?

Is it possible that we can even form some conception of this?

Suppose that the Divine Source has set each of us on the way to discovering our unique place and supreme joy, as individual elements in an immeasurably great community of souls. How can this be achieved? Each of us will have an immense amount to learn, for which we need to be powerfully motivated. It will take time and wonderfully varied resources. We will learn by much trial and error, living with the consequences of our mistakes, and each other's. What a messy business! Little wonder if we find the world often scary and bewildering. Yet might it not all be worth it in the end?

Yes, it could be so, but only if something prevents total chaos developing, protects us from mutual destruction, and helps us recover from our failures and disappointments, so that we can move on and up again. That mysterious something we may call Divine Providence, or God's Foresight. It weaves our many devious paths together, bandages our wounds and soothes our pains, tidies up the muddles we create, and shows us ever new and exciting possibilities to life. All this happens in ways which are not too obvious, so that we retain a measure of freedom and can make sense of things in our own way. Power to think and to make choices (or Liberty and Rationality) is its greatest gift to us, and its priorities in its working.

What of the wider world though, especially the earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, tsunamis, and so on? Could not the universe have been created without these? That would mean re-designing it with different natural laws, and is very difficult to imagine. It may actually be easier to see disasters as serving important purposes. They bring out compassion, heroism, resolve and ingenuity in mending situations - as well as the understandable negative reactions. They may also prompt us to confront the mountainous faults in ourselves and in our communities.

Some conception of Providence is possible then, but full understanding beyond us, and surely its best so. Its useful that we keep questioning: How far is my future planned and settled? How much am I free to decide? How much harm and pain might I have to suffer - or might I inflict? Can I really be protected from my own stupidity? Doesn't the Divine weep for all that's wrong?

Believing in a kindly but realistic Providence can free us to live adventurously, compassionately, and beautifully!

 

For a further article on Providence follow this link:

Satellite Navigation and God's Providence

 

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