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“Although it is certain that everything that exists or happens in this world is ordered by God’s providence, nevertheless certain things show quite openly that they are arranged by the governance of providence, while others are unfolded in so obscure and incomprehensible a fashion that the reason of divine providence lies hidden deep within them.” (Origen)

“Consider the story of the Patriarch Joseph. Betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused by his master’s wife, thrown into prison, where he meets other prisoners and interprets dreams, thus coming to the attention of the Pharaoh, whose dream he interprets and offers wise counsel, whereby he is made Regent over Egypt, saving his family from famine. What people in their right mind would ever consider such a plan as a means to reach the goal of saving themselves from a famine they had no idea was coming? No one. Indeed, event after event in the story appear to be nothing but ongoing tragedies. Joseph himself would later say of these things: “You [my brothers] meant it to me for evil, but the Lord meant it to me for good.” That is the inscrutable nature of providence – as illustrated repeatedly in the Scriptures. The mystery of God’s providence, the working of the Kingdom of God in our midst, is inscrutable…As is true in the story of Joseph, the work of providence is largely seen only in retrospect.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“So, in this passage of Acts [11:19-30], Luke witnesses to how God brings his good purpose even out of what appears in the first instance to be sorrow and destruction. Good men and women mourned Stephen, and the other martyrs that followed.  The mark on the community was so severe that at first the Jerusalem Christians did not believe that Saul had changed, and he had to be introduced to them by Barnabas.  It was a trauma.  But, in retrospect we see good that came, for Christians, forcibly scattered, took the Word with them—both a new way of reading the word of the Old Testament, taught to them by the apostles, and the Word Himself, present with them by His Holy Spirit…It is only sometimes in retrospect that the grandeur of truthful and righteous actions come into focus.” (Edith M. Humphrey)

“Sometimes the degrees of good and evil in one side or the other can be seen more clearly in retrospect. But this retrospect takes time, and discernment is harder to come by when we are in the thick of things. It is far too easy for us to over-simplify complex matters, and begin sentences with the words, “The truth is perfectly clear…” when actually the issue is far from perfectly clear. After history has given its mature verdict, hindsight (as they say) is twenty-twenty—but usually not until.” (Fr. Lawrence Farley)

“It takes calmness, patience, and humility to get through tough times. We need calm so we don’t become impatient. We need patience so we do not say or do something in haste that causes further damage in an already tense and tough situation. And we need humility so we don’t slip into the mindset of thinking we know everything or see everything with complete clarity. All of this helps us to work within God’s providence rather than in hopeless opposition it. The former brings peace and latter stress because God’s will is accomplished whether we cooperate or not. Being calm, patient, and humble prepares us for the wisdom that can only be seen and gained through retrospection.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)


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