“A Christian disposition, much like ears trained to discern and appreciate the tonal qualities of the gospel, is an absolute necessity if God’s providence is to be adequately perceived and interpreted.” Christopher Hall, Learning Theology from the Church Fathers.
Providence became another theological term in my life. I could describe God’s providence in relation to chapter and verse or even point to scholars of past and present. If I provided a definition I would say, God superintending the circumstances of our lives for His glory and our good. Definitions seem trite, because they do not always capture the complexities of understanding how God works in our lives.
Followers of Christ have the audacious belief that God will shine His light in the midst of the darkest nights. It’s far more than white knuckling through the night. Even the most devoted saints experience doubt in regards to God’s goodness. I think the words of Scripture we identify with the most come from the Gospels, “I do believe, but help my unbelief…”
I have found myself understanding providence as more than a definition, but as a way of life. The circumstances of the present invite us to find God within the midst. No matter the chaos, pain, or confusing, we find ourselves learning to trust the intentions of God rather than positive circumstances. A process full of struggle from our human perspective, because part of us believes we have a better plan.
We hope Aslan is on the move and the winter without Christmas will come to an end.
When providence moves from an intellectual conversation to a way of life…
We encounter Christ’s grace in the most unrecognizable ways.
We begin to see what thought would destroy us, God brings to save us.
We see the Holy Spirit refocus our view from ourselves to others.
Providence allows the follower of Christ to interpret the events of their lives through the heart of God. Christopher Hall in Learning from the Church Fathers shares an insight from John Chrysostom:
For those who are well-disposed, the revelation of God in and of itself, even before the proof drawn from his works, suffices to demonstrate not only his providence, but also his fervent love towards us. For he does not simply watch over us, but also loves us; he ardently loves us with an inexplicable love, with an impassible yet fervent, vigorous, genuine, indissoluble love, a love that is impossible to extinguish.
Photo credit to Jessie Schnall, you can see more of her work at Portraits by Jessie.