Humans have an incredible capacity to plan ahead. We understand that there is a future, and we prepare for it. This is perhaps the most important thing that separates us from other, lesser creatures. Our sense of time allows us to look at the past, present, and future, and prioritize each in a way that will lead to our flourishing. Plans, like anything else that is solely man made, crumble. The reality of crumbling plans is why we must learn from the very creatures who lack that capacity.
This is why Jesus exhorted us to “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?(Matthew 6:26-27)”.
When our ideas, plans, and conceptions of our future and ourselves fall apart, God is simply calling us to greater trust and dependence on him.
I would be a hypocrite if I said I have enough trust in Divine providence. I have far too little, but I keep learning this lesson. This doesn’t mean that we must deny the real emotional response that may come of life’s tragedies. We have emotions and thus we use them to process our world. When our loved ones or our relationships or our plans die, we mourn. God is not telling us not to mourn these deaths. Jesus in his earthly life experienced the full range of human emotions, including sorrow and anger, because He is, as we are, fully human. The difference is, that when faced with His impending death, He trusted his Father. Our suffering is so small compared to His, and so is our trust.
If there is one thing Jesus never promised us, it’s that we would not suffer. We do, and when we do, do we curse God? Or do we take a step back and listen instead to the story of creation as we trust God to piece our life back together? When faced with suffering, simply remember Jesus on the cross, and offer up your broken heart to Him, as a sacrifice of trust.