Providence or Destiny?

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Probably, every one of us has heard at one point the phrase, “What is written for you, is going to happen to you!” or “That’s how it was his fate!” Then, we also have to cope with those who tell us that our lives are determined by planets, names, or numbers that, in one way or another, influence our evolution.

In the end, we get to wonder if we have any kind of contribution to what’s happening to us. Is the “script” of our life established in advance and we only have to interpret it, without deviating from any scene, from any replica?

Such thinking, from the perspective of Orthodox Christianity, is unacceptable!

People were created with free will to decide their own destiny

If we believe this, it would mean that our deeds are not ours but somebody else determines them. This other person is neither the Universe, nor the planets or anything else but God, who is the only being of infinite power[1]. That would mean that we would not be judged, in fact, for our deeds, but for His.

If we had the destiny established before we were born, we would not be responsible for our decisions. Somebody else set them up before, and we just put them into practice. After such a logic, even devils would be innocent for all the wrongs committed!

Such a vision of reality can be an Oscar winning scenario, but, for Orthodox Christians, it is nonsense.

God created us not from boredom, but from infinite love. This means that He wanted us to share eternal happiness, that is, to take part in the communion of love with the Holy Trinity.

That is why He created us in His image[2] – with reason, sentiments and free will. So, from the very beginning of our existence, we have the right and possibility to choose our destiny, our way in life, our future or whatever we would like to call it. Yes, we really have the power to decide for us!

In other words, we are neither robots scheduled to live a predetermined life nor are we someone else’s puppets. Of course, unless we decide this.

And, because God loves us infinitely, He hasn’t left us. He has always watched over us. He took care of us! This process of God taking care of the world is called Providence.

But if God had always cared for us, what about the misfortunes and sufferings in the world?

I think anyone knows, even without watching the news, that our lives are not just made of happy moments. Unfortunately, throughout the world, in every moment, so many horrors are happening that even the most sadistic serial killer would feel ridiculed.

But this cannot be attributed to God. God does not limit the free will of men or angels. Therefore, the evils happening in the world are, in fact, acts done outside communion with Him.

Evil does not exist in itself, but it is a lack of good, just as darkness is nothing but a lack of light. When people or angels (I mean the evil ones, the devils) turn their back to the light, they remain with the darkness.

Exactly the same thing happens when we abandon the way of good. You cannot live a “neutral” life, you can live it well or not.

Let’s say that each one educates her/his child as best she/he can and teaches her/him to do good. When the child reaches mature age, so she/he is 100% responsible, may be considered his/her parent guilty of his/her actions? Of course not! So, is our relationship with God!

If we, men, do evil to one another, how come is God’s fault?

Sure, we can say that He could watch over the innocent people or guard those who suffer from natural disasters. After all, if it is natural phenomena, He is the one who controls them, isn’t He?

That’s right, but it’s a little hard or rather “ostentatious” on our part to claim that we can know or understand the reasons why the various phenomena happen!

We only know that everything has a justified cause, that God loves us and that things happen in the best possible way for everyone.

If we understand these things and accept them, our lives make sense. If we do not believe that our life is a consequence of our free choices and that God does not watch over the whole world, then everything is pointless.

But, however reluctant we may be, we cannot fail to recognize that beyond all the misfortunes and sufferings in the world, there is “too much” order and “too much” equilibrium. Therefore, we cannot think that everything is determined by planets or by a random evolutionary process.

It is simply the intervention of a Being who is far superior to us, who takes care that we, the people, in our “wisdom”, do not ruin everything. It is God, Who, through His Providence, takes care of the whole universe.

I know! It’s not all we have to know, but it’s all we need to know! For now!

[1] If there were two infinite beings, this would be a nonsense, because the two beings would limit each other and would not be infinite.

[2] Genesis, chapter 1, verses 26-27.

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