We might know in our minds that God has the attributes of being all present, all knowing, all loving, and all merciful. But if we can come to know these also in our hearts, then I believe it becomes easier to trust in Divine Providence. And knowing that we’re living under Divine Providence allows us to experience peace, contentment, and—dare I say it, joy—regardless of our current circumstances.
Let’s consider when Jesus’ disciples were in the boat with Jesus and being tossed about by a terrible storm. They were afraid they might drown while Jesus was asleep. So, they woke Him up and He quieted the storm, asking them why they were so afraid. The lesson? We should always trust Jesus’ presence in our lives and God’s plans for us—or Divine Providence—no matter how “stormy” life gets.
As I pondered the notion of Divine Providence, the image of a roller coaster came to mind. Roller coasters have dips, turns, and steep climbs—they can literally flip our worlds upside down! But because we trust that the designers have built in safety functions, all the twists and turns only add to the excitement and joy we feel on the ride.
But in order to stay safe on a roller coaster, we must follow certain instructions. We must keep our arms and legs inside the vehicle as well as keep our seat belts fastened until the ride comes to a complete stop. If we don’t do these things, we can be seriously injured, possibly even killed.
God has also given us instructions for the “ride of life” that are most clearly communicated through Scripture and Catholic Tradition (I’ve even heard the Bible referred to as “Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth”). In other words, God has given a blueprint for how to live even though we often screw it up. Yet, because He is all loving, all merciful, and all faithful, He doesn’t leave us when we do screw up. He doesn’t respond with the human tendency of, “I told you so.” Instead, He lovingly encourages us to try again.
We only need to recall the woman who was caught in the act of adultery as an example:
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.” (Jn. 8:10-11).
Many of us who have battled habitual sin or unhealthy addictions for a lifetime have been convinced by the devil that we are beyond God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. However, the devil is a liar. Time and time again, God has assured us that if we repent and believe, He will forgive us and equip us with the grace to begin anew.
Our weaknesses teach us that we were never meant to navigate this world alone. We were always meant to walk in perfect fellowship with the Father under his loving plan of Divine Providence for us. Even though Original Sin destroyed this ability, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus have won us the promise of eternal life with the Father.
By embracing the reality of God’s unconditional love for us, I am coming to appreciate that in every circumstance, no matter how bumpy, I can embrace more and more the mystery of Divine Providence. When circumstances are painful, challenging, or difficult, as long as I keep to the Lord’s instruction, I can trust in Divine Providence. I can ask the question “How?” instead of “Why?”
In other words, like Mary, I’m able to ask the Lord, “How can this be?” with a spirit of trust as opposed to, “Why is this happening?” And I can wait with excitement to see how God is going to direct my steps—no matter how dark or difficult the trial. Ultimately, when we acknowledge Divine Providence working in our lives we’re able to experience the fruits of peace and joy at all times.
Jim Gorski is a father of four children who has been married to the same woman for 36 years. He completed his master’s degree in social work in 1984 and has directed church music groups for the past 41 years. He remains a grateful child of the most high God and strives to trust in God’s loving mercy and His ability to provide for Jim’s every need.