We tend to valorize our life and magnify our importance. We try to make a story of our life as if we were the star of our own movie. This is a mistake, though a natural one. The mistake depends on human psychology, but also on some metaphysical truths that are easy to understand. There is a God. God has a plan. God loves you. God has a good plan for you. All of this is true and can be believed based on best reason and experience.
We need to ask an important question: is our interpretation of what is happening to us true or are we seeing overly easy patterns where they do not exist?
This does not mean that seeing that plan is easy at any given moment. The cosmos is large, there are many beings in that cosmos, and the good God is balancing the needs of the many against my own needs. The simple story I would tell about me, John Mark Nicholas Reynolds, the Motion Picture, is arrogant and foolish. It is too easy to see patterns where there are none and to glorify self over others.
Instead, from the Bible to Christian philosophers like Augustine we are cautioned to focus on what we know. We know nature is real and that nature’s laws operate with regularity. We know humans have free will and our decisions interact in crazy ways! We can know God exists and when we see Him, we learn that God is good. God has a providential history for us, right down to the individual, but that providence is hard to see. We must not be hasty or overread our importance to the purposes of God.
God loves Houston, but God equally loves Mexico and Cuba. The hurricane hit us and not them, thank God! Why? I do not know. How could I? In one thousand years, perhaps, the pattern will be easier to see, but not just now. I am certainly not the star of the cosmic film, but not even a city the size of Houston can star in the story. We are too small, too parochial.
Yet . . . yet . . . . that is one truth and here is another: we do not know why it rained on the city and not on a different place, but we know God loves Houston and each Houstonian. We do not know why one city flooded and another did not, but God is good. We know this on independent grounds and so can be comforted during this difficult time. I was not saved from our home flooding because I am special and my awesome friends did not have flooding, because they are evil. We cannot be sure. The rain falls on the just and the unjust.
Here is the good news: I am not the star of the story, God is and God loves each one of us. He wants what is best for me in the big story of goodness, truth, and beauty God is writing. I am not center of the tale, but I am loved. I am as big as I can be . . . no limits but who I am and I am. God loves us.
In Houston just now, this is hard to see. Other places in the world, it might be easy to see, but whatever my lot, reason has taught me to say: it is well, it is well with my soul!