Providence and Permissions

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The Lord our Heavenly Father wants nothing more than to keep us safe from evil and falsity. But He also treasures our freedom to choose between good and evil, and the way we choose to live affects the extent to which the Lord can protect us. When bad things happen, it is never because the Lord wants them. But He does permit them for the sake of our freedom and our eternal life.

How do these teachings help us understand Providence?

  • The Lord’s providence looks toward our eternal happiness, having “in view what is eternal” (Arcana Coelestia 7007:4)
  • The Lord wants us to be free to choose our path in life: “Every person from early childhood is led and taught by the Lord, but because a person’s freedom is never taken away, he can be led and taught only to the extent of his reception as though of himself “(Divine Providence 164:5).
  • One reason that evil is permitted is so that we can recognize it and reject it. “Without permissions a person cannot be led by the Lord away from evil and so be reformed and saved. For if evils were not permitted to break out, a person would not see them and therefore would not acknowledge them, and so could not be brought to resist them” (see Divine Providence 251).
  • When we are following the Lord, we may be challenged by people around us or by the evil spirits in hell. In spite of evil in the world, the Lord in His providence provides that good may come out of it.  “When the Lord is with someone, He leads him and makes provision so that all that happens, whether sad or joyful, may bring him what is good” (see Arcana Coelestia 6303).
  • Here is another teaching that can bring us peace in troubled times. “Peace holds within itself trust in the Lord, the trust that He governs all things and provides all things, and that He leads toward an end that is good. When a person believes these things, he is at peace” (see Arcana Coelestia 8455:1,2).

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As we strive to reject what is evil and love what is good, the Lord bends things to good ends, leading us ever closer to the spiritual happiness of heaven. Sometimes evil appears to be victorious in the natural world. Yet the Lord assures us that our spirit is always under His protection.

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13-14)

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