Monday, August 29, 2011

Providence: He Cares For Us, He Hears Our Prayers

Well, the hurricane has come and gone, and most of us have thanked God that it wasn't as bad as it was predicted to be. And in this gesture I realized something that might have been missing or not sufficiently emphasized in my previous blog about God's providence.

The distinction I draw between God's "ordinary" providence and His "miraculous" interventions may be a bit too cut and dried for the real mystery of how the God who became man and died on the Cross for love of each and every human being actually works in our everyday world and in our ordinary circumstances of life. The mystery of God's transcendence has it's corresponding element in the mystery of His intimacy and His profound, particular, and personal concern for the lives of each and every one of us.

God does hear our prayers, even for temporal things, for seemingly mundane things like good weather. He answers them according to His purposes, which are mysterious, but for people of real faith it is a simple fact of experience that He often answers them favorably, or else He guides people through difficulties in such a way that they begin to realize that He has brought greater good out of circumstances that appeared obscure or meaningless at the time they were initially endured. He is involved in the small things of life. We thank Him for our food. We thank Him for a good day. We pray to Him to help us to get better when we are sick; we pray to Him for safety when we travel; we pray to Him on behalf of others for a multitude of concerns. And we do so with faith that prayer matters; that God wants us to experience daily life as a gift from His loving hands. "Give us this day our daily bread."

When we analyze from the point of view of metaphysics or empirical science, we speak of time and eternity, the reality of secondary causes, God's omniscience. But this should not obscure for us the truth that God is personally, lovingly engaged in shaping the path of each and every one of our lives. We must trust that if we ask we shall receive, and if we do not receive what we ask for it is only because God knows that what we need is something else, something mysterious and difficult perhaps, but more in keeping with our final destiny.

God's transcendence does not imply His absence from our lives, but on the contrary it indicates--in a manner beyond our understanding--the freedom of His complete presence in our lives: the fact that He holds each of us in the palm of His hand.