God Writes Straight With Crooked Lines
What about those mistakes we fret over? What about the “what if’s?” Now, certainly every sinner is capable of forfeiting plan A for plan B. For instance, a man who commits adultery and then seeks to file a divorce with his present wife is, by no means, carrying God’s plan A for him. But even in this case, God, who, from all eternity, allowed such a moral evil to take place. And in allowing this to happen, He allowed for the unfortunate circumstances to contribute to his perfect plan for the family and even for the adulterer. In so doing, plan B – being less ideal than plan A – can be comparable to plan A in God's hands. Recall the Easter Proclamation: “O happy fault that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!” If Christ can take the sins of humanity and bring out of it many blessings, then surely He can do it for the imperfect or sinful choices an individual might make in dating.
And this leads us to the following question: Can God’s will be thwarted by mistakes? The Saints tell us, “no!” Every apparent fluke and all “senseless” suffering is either deliberately willed by God or permitted for some higher good. It is all a part of His intelligent design. No doubt, the more painful the circumstances are, the harder it is to reconcile such circumstances to God’s wise and loving counsel. For this reason, the mystery of the Cross can be a stumbling block to many of us; especially when we are blindsided by a crisis.
Peace Amid Want
But here is the real crux: We know that God is everything for us; we lack nothing with Him. If, then, He dwells within our souls and is firmly within our possession, why is it, then, that we suffer so much in the absence of a spouse or a loved one? The short answer: Only a lifetime of faith, hope, love and sacrifice can translate this interior spiritual reality into a practical reality. Indeed, it is through the mystery of the Cross that hastens this translation. This is how the peace of God is attained. And it is this peace that St. Paul had come to know. To the Philippians, he wrote:
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus…[F]or I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” (Philippians 4:6,7,11-13)
The peace of God results, at least in part, from the knowledge that all things work together for the good. Believe or not, free will is such a small part of the overall picture. What Christians do not think about often enough are all the bad things the Lord prevents from happening. Even mathematicians who specialize in probabilities say that it is a wonder that we can get from point A to point B without some accident occurring. In this unstable world of ours, so many things can go wrong. I guess that is why we have guardian angels.
The Sacrament of the Moment: Our Highest Vocation
In any event, it could be that a man or woman who has just turned 30 or 40 years of age and hence sees the clock ticking away, may be prevented by Divine Providence from marrying the wrong person or marrying too soon or even entering into a marriage when there are so many unresolved problems that he or she needs to work through. This is little consolation for those who are waiting on God to have their prayers answered or yearning to find that right person, but being married or single is not the most important thing. The most important thing for the Christian is to embrace God’s will as it is revealed to him in the circumstances of the moment.
Indeed, the “sacrament of the moment” is to know that the present situation – be it agreeable or disagreeable – is ordained for our highest good and happiness. In fact, to embrace God’s will in each new moment is a vocation far more important than the status of being married or single. This is the means by which souls know the peace that only Christ can give. It is how true friends of God are made.
But the friends of God – also known as the Saints – say that conformity to God’s will is not enough. No. We have to will what God will's. And to will what God will’s, even if it means being single for an extended period of time, we have to will being single "in the moment." The secret to sanctity and peace of soul is to will what God gives us in the circumstances of each day. This is no small feat. In fact, it can be quite grueling. It can wear us down. But it is the most mysterious and yet most liberating ambition anyone could have!
Think about it: If we thank God for those things that agreeable to us, can we not also thank Him for all the deprivations and setbacks that run counter to our will as well? And is such adversity not just as good for us in the long run? If we have the faith of a Saint we would answer in the affirmative. At the very least, let us be thankful that the Lord does not give us what we want all the time! After all, how many times have we begged God for things that, in hindsight, proved not to be in our best interests.
Even more so, let us be thankful for the Sacrament of the Moment. After all, this is where the greatest of treasures is to be found: God’s all-wise and loving will.
Editor's note: This is the second column in a series of two. To read the first column in this series, click here.