How 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
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
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
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