Friday, December 21, 2007

God's Providence

Len and I have had many discussions about God and His providence/involvement in daily life. Of course each of us (even the whole universe) would cease to exist if he stopped willing it, but how much does He interfere/decide what will happen to us? Why do bad things happen? If He has a plan for us, where does free will (ours and everyone else's) come in?

I think God does have a plan, a way He wants us to go. We need to discern His will and do our best to follow it. And bad things happen because the world is Fallen (so sickness, pain, etc.), and we sinful people have the free will to mess things up and hurt each other.

BUT, I believe God can make good things come out of any situation. And I believe He does know what is best for us, even if we sometimes disagree. We can't see where all the consequences, circumstances, and choices will lead.

For example, today I was racing around the mall looking for the teen who was late and had not turned on his phone (grr!). As I sped through the food court, I saw a little boy, maybe 2 years old, happily walking along. I saw no adult near him. I got down on his level and asked where his mommy was. No answer. He remained cheerful until I picked him up, and then the wailing started! He wanted nothing to do with this unfamiliar lady, but I thought, "Too bad. I know what's good for you, and walking around through this crowded place alone is NOT what's good for you." The crying was even potentially useful. I held him high and wandered around waiting for someone to claim my noisy bundle. We got plenty of attention, but no takers. I found a security guard who realized that since little guy wore no shoes, he must have come from the (not so nearby) play area. On our way over there (I kept carrying him since he screamed even more when the guard tried to pick him up.), we met his mom.

My point is this: as I think about this incident now, I remember that experienced-parent feeling I had when I picked up that child against his will to make sure the best thing could happen. While God (yes, a very experienced father!) allows us lots of lee-way (i.e. free will), I believe He can and does intervene in our lives, making miracles big and small happen. I don't know how often He's directing the minutae, and while He answers prayers, it's not alway in the way we want Him to.

Someone once told a true story about getting a flat tire on the way to daily mass and having to stay home. As things turned out, a long unseen friend came to the door and ended up having lunch with the family. They would have missed each other without that flat tire. Did God cause the flat tire? He could have. Did God make something good (the friend) come out of a (nothing special) flat tire? He could have. I don't know, and to a certain extent I don't care. I just need to try to trust that God loves me and wills the best for me.

"We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

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