Divine Providence and the tempests of life
By Protopresbyter Fr. Dionysios Tatsis
When people of the Church say that the world has distanced itself from God, they are implying something very unpleasant and dangerous. When realizing that their spiritual support is nowhere to be found, they proceed to search for another one. Initially, people don't desire the support of their acquaintances. Proud as they are, they think that everything that comes their way in life they can handle on their own because they have knowledge and talents, and that they will always be proven victors. They actually live with this illusion.
But when the sky becomes overclouded and tempests and lightning bolts begin to appear on the horizon, they tend to worry and - strangely enough - they suddenly feel the need for someone to stand by them. But where do they find that someone? Just the other day, didn't they reject anyone's presence or help? Now they are seeking but not finding. But even if some people do seem willing to help them, they don't necessarily have good intentions. They may very possibly be aiming for something – quite likely a secret desire to exploit them in many and varied ways.
In the end, these confused people won’t find any essential help. What they are in need of is not human help, but help from God, which they had never thought of. Unfortunately, their own thoughts are irrational, groundless and ineffective.
Saint Nikolaos Velimirovich uses an example to describe the tragic situation of man who lives without God: “When a man’s heart is distanced from the Lord, then he usually relies on people and himself. Because on who else can he rely, after he has untied his boat from the ship of God? And, having untied the rope of his boat from the ship of God, nothing else is left for him to do but entrust his boat to himself or to the boats of his neighbors. Of course his hope then is small, but he has no other solution! He is standing above the abyss of his destruction, but has no other solution.”
Blessed is the man who believes and relies on God. He is able to face the tempests of life, without drowning in agony and without feeling disappointed. He expects nothing positive and certain from himself and his fellow human beings; and yet, the heavenly Father often sends him virtuous people, who express their genuine love for him in practice, and together make the difficult easy, the unpleasant pleasant and they mutually thank God and are grateful to Him.
The conscientious Christian trusts Divine Providence and never despairs. He knows that the Lord is providential and that “when He allows sufferings to peak, then, after subduing the tempest, He restores peace and brings a huge change to things once again, thus demonstrating the magnitude of His power”, as elucidated by Saint Chrysostom.
Divine Providence finds a way out where there are impasses and He grants security and joy: “Exactly like a river that branches out into countless places and irrigates the vast expanses over which it spreads, likewise the Providence of God is poured out everywhere and is spread everywhere abundantly, rushing forth and filling everything. It not only provides security, but also effective help and spiritual joy”, Saint John assures us, and advises us to not be over-anxious and cater to our own affairs, but instead leave them to God. Because if we cater to them, we do it like humans, whereas if God provides, He provides like God.
Translation by A.N.
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