You hardly hear talk about «God’s providence» today. It’s a language that has fallen into disuse or has been converted into a pious form of thinking about certain events. However to believe in the provident love of God is a basic facet of a Christian.
It all arises from a radical conviction. God doesn’t abandon or ignore anyone God creates, but sustains their life with faithful, vigilant and creative love. We aren’t at the mercy of chance, chaos or fate. In the interior of reality is God, leading our being toward good.
This faith doesn’t free us from pain and work, but roots the believer in a complete trust in God, who casts out the fear of falling definitively under the powers of evil. God is the ultimate Lord of our lives. Therefore we have the invitation of the First Letter of St. Peter: «Unload all your burdens on to God, since God is concerned about you» (1 Peter 5,7).
This doesn’t mean that God ‘intervenes’ in our life as other persons or factors intervene. Faith in Providence has sometimes fallen in discredit precisely because it’s been understood in an interventionist sense, as if God inserts Self into our dealings, forcing events or eliminating human freedom. It’s not that way. God completely respects the decision of people and the march of history.
That’s why we oughtn’t say actually that God ‘guides’ our life, but that God offers grace and energy so that we direct and guide it toward our good. Thus God’s provident presence doesn’t lead to passivity and inhibition, but to initiative and creativity.
We mustn’t forget on the other hand that even if we can grasp well the signs of God’s provident love in concrete experiences of our life, God’s action always remains inscrutable. What appears to us today as evil can be tomorrow a source of good. We’re incapable of embracing the whole of our existence; the final meaning of things escapes us; we can’t understand the events in their final consequences. Everything remains under the signs of the love of a God who doesn’t forget one of God’s creatures.
From this perspective the scene of the lake of Tiberias acquires its whole depth. In the midst of the storm, the disciples see Jesus asleep, trustingly in the boat. From their hearts full of fear arises a cry: «Master, do you not care? We are lost!». Jesus, after spreading his own calm to the sea and the winds, tells them: «Why are you so frightened? Have you still no faith?».
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf