St John Chrysostom: On God’s Providence

Above all, we must not be overly inquisitive, either at the outset or afterwards. But if you are so curious and inquisitive, wait for the final outcome and see how things turn out. And do not be thrown into confusion, do not be troubled at the start. When an inexperienced man at first sees a goldsmith melting the gold and mixing it with ashes and chaff – if he does not wait till the end – he will think the gold is ruined. And if a man who has been born and raised on the sea and is completely ignorant of how to care for the land is suddenly moved to the interior of the country, when he sees the wheat that has been stored away and protected behind doors and bars, and kept free from moisture, suddenly brought out by the farmer, scattered, thrown about, lying on the ground before all passersby, and not only not kept free from moisture, but given over to mire and mud without any protection, will he not consider the wheat to be ruined and pass judgment on the farmer who did these things? But this condemnation does not come from the nature of what is done, but from the inexperience and folly of him who is not judging well, casting his ballot immediately at the outset. If he waited for the summer and saw the fields waving, the sickle sharpened, and the wheat that has remained scattered unprotected and rotted and ruined and given over to the mire now raised up and multiplied, appearing in full bloom, having put away that which is obsolete, set upright with great strength, as though having guards and a watch, raising its stalk up high, delighting the beholder, as well as providing nourishment and great benefit – then he would be highly amazed that, by way of such conditions, the fruit had been brought to such abundance and splendor.

Therefore, you too, O man, especially do not be inquisitive about the common Master of us all. But if you are so contentions and daring as to rage with such madness, then wait for the final outcome of events. For if the farmer waits the whole winter, considering not what the wheat is undergoing during the time of frost, but the benefit he will get from it, much more so, before Him who cultivates the whole world, as well as our souls, is it fitting for you to wait for the final outcome. But by outcome I do not mean only the outcome in the present life – for often it will be here, as well – but also that in the life to come.

God’s economy is directed toward a single end in each of these lives: our salvation and good repute. Even if it is divided in two with regard to time, it is united with regard to objective. Just as at first it is winter and then it is spring, and the passage of each season has a single goal – the ripening of the fruit – so it is with our affairs.

Therefore, when you see the Church scattered, undergoing the utmost sufferings, its prominent members attacked and flogged, its leader carried afar off, consider not only these things, but also the things that will result from them: the rewards, the compensations, the prizes, the awards. He that endureth to the end shall be saved, says the Lord (Matt. 10:22). In the time of the Old Covenant, when the teaching of the resurrection was not yet well known, both things came to pass in the present life. But in the time of the New Covenant, this is not always so. Rather, there are instances where there are painful things here in this life, and the good things await our departure from here.

Nevertheless, since under the Old Covenant the good things of life were coming to pass for them in this present life, especially admirable are they who did not enjoy these things, since without clearly knowing the teaching on the resurrection, and seeing events occurring which were contrary to the promises of God, they were not scandalized, they were not thrown into confusion, they were not troubled. Rather, they submitted themselves to God’s incomprehensible providence, not being scandalized by adverse events. Knowing the resourcefulness and inventiveness of His Wisdom, they waited for the end. Moreover, everything that was done to them before the end they endured with thankfulness, and they continued to glorify the God Who allowed these things to take place.

– St John Chrysostom: On God’s Providence

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