Friday, January 21, 2011

Of providential straws and Camels..

Good morning God,
I'm not really sure about providence, it's always been something that has troubled me. Trying to find the balance between your providential care for me, and my free will(?) is a theological conundrum that I periodically return to and nurse, like a decaying tooth that is wobbly but not quite ready to fall out.
The peculiar pain of an unresolved theological dilemma has always begged teasing and testing.. but never more so than now.

Tell me God, was it providential that my father died of an aortic aneurysm when I was just 18? Was it your way of preparing me so that I would know just how much to fear when my husband was found yesterday to have the same thing? Or is that just a coincidence?
Was it providential that someone kindly gave me swine flu to share with my husband, which led to him having the blood test that made them suspect cancer and so do the tests that accidentally discovered this massive aneurysm? Or was that just another string of coincidences..?
And is it providential that all this occurs now, as I begin a new cycle of chemotherapy and on the same day that my aunt dies?

Or is it all a coincidence, the working out of our free will, the result of our chosen life-styles?

How 'active' are you in the details of our everyday and endtimes?
Do you really know the when, the where and the how of each of our lives and deaths, and do you manipulate us, intervene in the cosmos to make sure it all happens according to plan..?

It just doesn't sound like you to me!
You, after all, built the law of cause and effect into the universe, gave us the laws of motion, and the corresponding spiritual laws of grace. There's no real evidence that you reorder the universe to make things 'nice' for your 'favourites'- although we often rewrite our history to show your hand in it. The fact seems to be that it is your constant presence and the love and grace that it communicates which is the primary 'force' you provide to guide our steps and help us to 'determine' our futures. You inspire US to work for what is later deemed providential...
You never promised anyone 'nice' or 'ordinary' or even 'good' lives, just unique lives, each with the potential to make a difference in the world. You ask us if we are prepared to channel the power that drives the changes you seek, to build the society you desire, to foster the community of grace that allows each human being to evolve to live life to the fullest. But you never said you would make sure that meanwhile we would be protected from the sickness, pain and suffering that we are working to cure and prevent. You never promised us immunity from what needs to be addressed.

So along the way, to borrow a well worn phrase..

Shit happens..

But God, if I'm honest, I do wish you would/could intervene right now.
My husband and I really could do with a break from the overly dramatic life threatening stuff that's been hitting us both lately.  A bit of 'normality' would go down just fine at the moment.

Something about straws and camels and all that springs to mind...
Dare I ask,
Can you just nudge the world enough to end some of this madness if only for a moment..
we desperately need a little ordinariness in our lives..

Or would that be too providential...?


  1. Prayers for your family. And no neat answers to your heartfelt prayer.

  2. thank you so much for your honesty in sharing your thoughts. I pray too for ordinariness for you.

  3. As a teenager I was very keen on the idea of providence. Then someone very close to me developed a debilitating disease. The reality of it meant that I could no longer accept a God for whom this was part of some providential plan, even if it was to bring about a very great good somewhere along the way. It still regularly niggles me that I might be wrong - that it might be a deficiency in my faith - but I can't honestly say I've come to a different conclusion yet. There's no doubt that the whole experience has both shaped my theology and my own pastoral ministry in a way which I hope is helpful to others - but I see that as a work of resurrection rather than providence.
    But, all that said, it doesn't stop me praying for divine intervention too!

  4. You are included in my prayers.

  5. You are both always in my prayers Angie. Thank you for the depth and honesty you bring - as always.