God's Providential Care
Saturday was the regular men’s morning of recollection at our parish. After some preliminaries, our speaker for the morning opened the floor up for discussion about supernatural events in our lives. He started by recounting his miraculous escape from a car accident as a teenager when he was able to stop his car in an impossible situation. He also shared a story of saving his daughter and nephew from drowning at the beach in a rip tide, which ended with a wave throwing him and his nephew onto the shore just when he thought they might not make it back in. At the very end of our discussion, he gave us the final piece of the puzzle when he explained that he had started swimming regularly for exercise about a year before the incident even though he was not a swimmer.
Different men shared stories of events in their lives where they see God’s intervention—some of which seem natural; others more supernatural. One described waking up at night at 3:10 am—the exact time of his birth—several times after going through significant spiritual growth events in his life. He perceived this as a confirmation from God of spiritual “re-birth.” Another prayed for relief from “level 9 out of 10 pain” after knee surgery and the pain immediately subsided to “level 4,” allowing him to sleep. One man credited his wife with saving his life by prompting him to go see a doctor about abdominal pain, and he ended up needing gallbladder surgery. A recent convert was praying before Our Blessed Lord in the tabernacle, asking for the sanctuary candle to shine brightly on him to confirm Our Lord’s Real Presence. As he closed his eyes, suddenly a bright line was shining on him. He opened his eyes to see that a woman had sat down in front of him, and a piece of her purse was reflecting a ray of sunlight directly into his eyes. I recalled the story of a Vietnam war veteran who was standing next to an evacuation helicopter taking enemy fire, when he bent over to pick something up. An enemy round hit the helicopter right where he was standing. Had he not bent over at that instant, he would have been shot.1
The discussion also brought to mind a picture that I saw during a visit to Frankfurt, Germany, a number of years ago. We were visiting the Catholic Cathedral in modern downtown Frankfurt. In the museum, there was a photograph of the Cathedral still standing after the World War II bombing of the city. The city around it is leveled to the ground, but the steeple still stands. How did the building survive? Only by God’s providential care.
The picture was such an anointed statement to me of God’s protection that I bought a copy and hung it on the wall in our bedroom. Below is a public domain picture from a different perspective, but it shows what was left.
There is also a story about eight missionaries who survived the atomic bombing at Hiroshima without injury or radiation sickness. Their church, while damaged, was still standing in the midst of the rubble. When asked later why they survived, one of the priests said “We believe that we survived because we were living the message of Fatima. We lived and prayed the Rosary daily in that home.”
Another man mentioned the story of how Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Support miraculously survived an air raid in Milan in World War II.
All of these testimonies and stories inspire us to praise God. We do not really comprehend God’s providential care for us, His children by baptism. God stands outside of time and sees everything. He can prompt a man who is not a swimmer to start swimming as exercise a year before a crisis in the ocean in which he saves two lives. He can save a building and nine men from an atomic bomb. God is amazing!
The Scriptures give us a similar testimony. In the Old Testament, three faithful men refused to bow down and worship the golden image set up by King Nebuchadnez′zar. They believed that God would be able to deliver them from the fiery furnace threatened by the king.2 They refused to worship the idol. After the king had them thrown in the furnace in a rage, God sent an angel to protect them! The three men sang the praises of God in the midst of the flames, emerging unharmed. Glory to God!
Likewise, in the New Testament, Jesus tells his disciples to not be afraid because their lives are enveloped in the Father’s loving providential care for us:
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”3
Why do we doubt? Why do we fear the future? Jesus told us that even the hairs of our head are numbered! Our loving Father knows us that intimately. We are totally under His care. Fear not!
The most powerful part of the discussion on Saturday morning was hearing so many men describe events in their lives where God intervened on their behalf. God is working in our lives right now in natural and supernatural ways. If we stop and pay attention, we will start to see more and more ways in which His loving providence takes care of us.
It is also important for Christians to share their testimony of God’s blessings and providence in their lives to build the faith of our brethren. Do you have a story to share?
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