Monday 2 January 2023

"I did no more than follow the lead of 'chance" - A helpful perspective on what to do when the adverse odds seem impossible to overcome

"I promised to help [Thorin] if I could. I was as eager as he was to see the end of Smaug, but Thorin was all for plans of battle and war, as if he were really King Thorin the Second, and I could see no hope in that. So I left him and went off to the Shire, and picked up the threads of news. It was a strange business. I did no more than follow the lead of 'chance,' and made many mistakes on the way."

Gandalf speaking; from The Quest of Erebor, in Unfinished Tales by JRR Tolkien. I have previously written on how things - providentially - happened on this journey of The Hobbit

The probabilities stacked against us in life can sometimes feel overwhelmingly bad - insofar as we can calculate them honestly.  

What is perhaps needed is a change of perspective - from which may come a desirable change in attitude; and then (from this perspective) valid grounds for hope... 

Some idea of what to do would also be helpful. 

In such a mood it may be useful to recall (again - we already 'know' it) that God is good, our loving father; and God is the creator - and creation is on-going. 

This means that there is such a thing as divine providence, and this applies to each of us - as individuals.

We would be right, therefore, to have confidence in God from here onward; and starting from now

"What to do", is that we ('merely') need to start noticing whatever providence brings into our lives, take them seriously, make the right-choices, learn from them; and then we will be on a right-path

The apparently impossible has sometimes happened; but seldom in ways or by means that people expect or could possibly have predicted; and good outcomes are seldom what we would have asked for in advance - even when they are certainly good. 

The best possible results come from (seriously) minding our own business - if what we are then doing is in harmony with divine will, then great good may come of it.  

And, knowing this is true, may well prove to be a cure for being overwhelmed. 

This does not mean that we ought to cling to unrealistic optimism, simply because we cannot face it. 

Yet the fact is that we cannot know what will come - because we do not know the full situation, nor all its important causes. 

Faith in providence suggests that the best possible outcomes will (by whatever means) derive from making the right decisions; and the right decisions are those made in the spirit of transcendental hope. 


Genie said...

Thank you. I have felt particularly anxious this week, and am realizing most of it is due to trying to see into the future -which has resulted in a bit of catastrophizing. This gives me much to ponder and reflect upon during the wee hours. Crunch time seems to be between two and three a.m. but all improves when dawn approaches.

Happy New Year and thanks for all of your wonderful writings.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Genie - Glad you have found it helpful. For me, this is a lesson that bears repeating.