In book three of The Chronicles of Narnia, the classic fantasy series written by C.S. Lewis, we have one of the best spiritual allegories of Divine Providence offered by our Christian tradition. In “The Horse and His Boy”
, there is a beautiful conversation between Shasta and Aslan, the Great Lion. After confiding to Aslan all of his life’s woes, including being chased by lions on two separate occasions, Aslan replies to Shasta, “I do not call you unfortunate”. Shasta presses, “But if nothing else, don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” Aslan then comes clean. He proclaims himself the single lion that Shasta has encountered:
“I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”
Often times it is very difficult to see where God is in the midst of our difficulties. No matter the struggle, it is natural to feel alone and isolated. To not be able to see beyond our feelings to a greater purpose or plan that can make sense of the pain and the suffering. It can be even harder to see all the ways that God protected us from even deeper pain or even harsher circumstances.
Our faith has always held that despite our circumstances or our feelings, God is still in control. Even when we don’t understand and he seems absent, faith tells us that he is at work and ordering all things for our good (Rom. 8:28).
Because ultimately, isn’t that what having faith is all about? In our baptism, we die to ourselves and rise to new life in Christ. Like St. Paul we now can say, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I know live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). What does it mean to live by ‘faith in the Son of God’?
Well among other things, I would propose it means to have a disposition of abandonment to the providence of God. Or in other words, to say like our Lord Jesus said in the garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Mathew 26:39).
This doesn’t mean that we don’t struggle or try our best to enact what is good, true and beautiful in our lives. We love, we live and we seek to prosper! But when life hands us pain and difficulties that we cannot avoid, we trust that God is still there in the midst of it and through prayer and surrender we trust Him to bring us out of it.
One of the greatest joys in life and in our spiritual journey is to begin to see, like Aslan so beautifully explained to Shasta, all the ways that God has been with us, guiding and protecting us. As we reflect on our lives, on all the struggles and pain we’ve lived through, let us ask God for the grace to see where he was in all of it. Trusting that he is good, he loves us and he always wants what is ultimately good for us. Let us praise the Lord, and give him thanks!