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This article was originally published by IntersectProject: ORIGINAL POST

By Jonathan Darville

One of my all time favorite movies is You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Not necessarily thought of as a Christmas movie, this delightful picture is a remake of the Christmas classic A Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan.

One scene from the film has always stuck with me. After spending an evening alone reminiscing about her mother and decorating a Christmas tree in the window of her children’s bookstore, Kathleen Kelly, played by Meg Ryan, returns home to write an email to Joe Fox, her love-interest who is played by Tom Hanks. In it she writes:

“‘It’s coming on Christmas, they’re cutting down trees.’ Do you know that Joni Mitchell song? ‘I wish I had a river I could skate away on?’ It’s such a sad song, and not really about Christmas at all, but I was thinking about it tonight as I was decorating my Christmas tree and unwrapping funky ornaments made of Popsicle sticks, and missing my mother so much I almost couldn’t breathe.

The last part of these lines has always choked me up: “and missing my mother so much I almost couldn’t breathe.” It makes me think about my grandmother. It also makes me think about a day when I will desperately miss my own mother.

As Shelly Durkee articulated so well in a recent post, many of us have these types of moments, especially around the holidays, when we are overcome by an overwhelming sense of loss and longing. Whether missing a loved one who is no longer with us, grieving an illness that hasn’t healed, mourning the loss of a job or a relationship, Christmas is often a reminder that things are not the way they were meant to be.

For the last 13 years, I have whispered to myself, “This is going to be the Christmas I will regain my health.” For 13 years that hope has been deferred. This year was particularly difficult for my family and me. Despite finally receiving a proper diagnosis of my condition[1]and remission being a real possibility, another Christmas is going to come and go without my whispered resolution coming to pass.

Do you know what has kept us from despair? One thing has enabled our weary souls to rejoice along with this weary world: the “thrill of hope.”[2] Christmas may be a difficult reminder of all the things that make us sad, but never forget that Christmas is chiefly a promise. A promise of a “new and glorious morn.”[3] A promise that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

If you are like me, you probably have a tendency to not just think about, but dwell on, all the things that could have been. I end up meditating on what I am missing out on because of my illness—seemingly normal things like eating with my family, playing with my niece and nephew, or dancing with my wife. No doubt, this is the opposite of “taking every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:15).

A Practical Strategy for Not Losing Heart

What should we do instead of dwelling on our sorrows? Let me humbly offer one suggestion that has proved especially helpful for me this year: Particularize your hope. In other words, concretize and then meditate on all the things that will be because of Christ. And then hold on.

For example, even if I don’t recover, one day I will feast with my family, play with my niece and nephew, and dance with my wife.[4] I not only think about that fact; I preach it to my heart until it beats with hope again.

No matter your circumstances, one day we will all laugh, and play, and dance, and sing, and feast with our loved ones in the New Heavens and New Earth. God will “restore…the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). And He will not only restore all that is broken in our lives, He will gloriously perfect them. That is to say, in the New Creation we will laugh and play harder, we will dance better, we will sing louder, food will taste better, and our fellowship with God and one another will be infinitely sweeter. Everything really will be “as good as it gets.”

So, when the waves of sadness hit you this year, remind yourself of this gospel truth: You and I may miss out on some of the temporal foretastes of the New Heavens and New Earth, but we certainly will not miss out on the eternal reality. Speaking of this anticipated joy, C.S. Lewis writes:

“The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last…then our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy but the truest index of our real situation…At present we are on the… wrong side of the door…but all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in.”[5]

Take heart this Christmas. One day everything really will be made right with the world.

[1] If by chance you have been following my story, I have a chronic form of an enterovirus called Coxsackie B, which is attacking my GI and Central Nervous systems.

[2] From, O Holy Night

[3] Ibid.

[4] Granted, my wife will just be my good friend in glory.

[5] C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Loneliness and the Love of God

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This article was originally published by IntersectProject: ORIGINAL POST

By Jonathan Darville

We are a lonely generation. It has been well documented in recent years that loneliness is on the rise and poses a significant threat to our spiritual and physical well-being. Two of the more publicized comments have come from Vivek Murthy, the former Surgeon General, and Douglas Nemecek, Cigna’s Chief Medical Officer of behavioral health.

Murthy, in a now well-known cover story for the Harvard Business Review, characterized loneliness as a “growing health epidemic,” and said that despite living in “the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization…rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980’s.” Nemecek, commenting on the results from a Cigna loneliness survey, said, “Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.” Regardless of whether rates of loneliness have or have not doubled since the 1980’s, statistically, loneliness is a widespread issue in our country.

Certainly, a contributing factor is that we are now spending more time alone than at any previous point in our nation’s history. We are bowlingscrollingtraveling and even worshipping alone. Loneliness, however, is not synonymous with being alone. The spiritual disciplines of solitude and silence do not necessarily evoke feelings of loneliness, and we can be surrounded by people and still feel desperately lonely. Rather, loneliness is the sorrow that results from undesired isolation and/or rejection. Loneliness is to be without proper companion(s).

Several things can cause loneliness (illness, loss, divorce, etc.) but whatever the cause, the ensuing sadness is an unmistakable sign that we were made for relationships of love, joy and acceptance. Indeed, it is not good for people to remain alone (Genesis 2:18).

In this post, I would like to explore how God’s omnipresence provides Christians with a unique[1] spiritual resource to combat loneliness.

Omnipresence in Review

God simultaneously fills and transcends every place. Heaven and earth can no more contain God than a submerged bucket can contain the ocean.[2] He is distinct from His creation. He is a higher and infinite order of being. He “inhabits eternity” (Isaiah 57:15). And yet, He is omnipresent within His creation. That is, God is fully present everywhere within time and space—at the farthest edges of the universe and in the very room in which you sit. As Saint Augustine said, “[God is] present entirely everywhere at once.” In other words, there is no place where God is not. Mark Jones illustrates this well: “God is a sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.” Again, omnipresence means that God is “everywhere at once.”

And, of course, He is not present as a mere bystander or disinterested observer; He is present everywhere as the Sovereign Lord over time and space and matter. God upholds the universe in being, gives life to every creature, and directs even the tiniest details of history. In this way, God is generally present to everyone: “In Him we [all] live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

But, He is uniquely present with believers by the indwelling of His Spirit and through the means of grace. That is, He is not “present everywhere in exactly the same manner.” Our experience of, and access to, God’s presence differs in certain respects depending on where we are (heaven, earth, hell); who we are (believer, unbeliever); when we live (under the old covenant, under the new covenant); what we are doing (playing, praying, sinning); and what God is doing (blessing, cursing, healing).

As believers, in addition to being beneficiaries of God’s general presence and common grace, we are beneficiaries of God’s special presence and saving grace. That is, because of our Spirit-wrought union with Christ, God is present to us in a new way. As Paul writes, “we who were once alienated have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). We have not been spatially, but relationally brought near to God[3]—so much so that Jesus can say in John 14:23, “Anyone who loves Me…My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make Our home with them.” Which they do by sending the “Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead to live in us” (Romans 8:11). In other words, in Him we live and move and have our new being.

Personal Implications

This means that even if the whole world rejects us or we are unavoidably isolated from everyone we love, in Christ we are fully accepted and never alone. As King David said,

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:7)

For those battling loneliness, this can make all the difference. For instance, as a younger man, my wife’s grandfather went through a self-proclaimed existential crisis. He writes, “I was tired of the struggle that I was going through…I said to the Lord ‘I am through with this life’…I’m ready to end it all….’ Then I raised my hand and looked at it intending to count the good friends I had in this world. I thought, ‘Lord, I don’t have one good friend in this world.’ Then it happened. I was in the presence of an intense light and changed atmosphere…I heard a voice that said, ‘Walt, Walt, here is your friend.’ And at the same time I saw a vision of Christ on the cross and without thinking…I threw myself on the floor face down…It was so personal, it made me sense how much He loves each one of us.”

Because of the cross, Walt and all of us who put our faith in Christ are given the right to be called children and friends of God (John 1:12; John 15:15): “Our friendship with God [is] restored by the death of His son” (Romans 5:10, NLT). Amazingly, in Christ, God counts us amongst His friends. Now, we are never without a proper companion. God, who as Tim Keller says, “sees us to the bottom, but loves us to the skies,” promises to always be with us and never forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). In other words, the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3) who is “close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18) is “our ever-present help” (Psalm 46:1) in times of loneliness.

Personal Application

God promises that if we draw near to Him that He will draw near to us (James 4:8). How does one draw near to God? In our loneliness, we can draw near and commune with God through:

  1. The Word:
    One of my favorite interactions in The Chronicles of Narnia is when Lucy says, “Oh, Aslan…it was kind of you to come.” To which Aslan responds, “I have been here all the time…you have just made me visible.” Do you know what Lucy was doing that made Aslan visible? Reading a book.  Analogously, reading or listening to the Bible is a means by which the presence of God becomes “visible” to our hearts. It is through the Word that God addresses us in conversation and we become aware of His presence.
  1. Prayer
    Joe Rigney writes, “If the living God is here and now confronting us with His presence, then prayer is precisely the point where we acknowledge that presence.” Prayer, in part, is how we address God in conversation. It is another means by which we experience “awe and intimacy” with God: “Here is what I want you to do: find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace” (Matthew 6:6, The Message).
  1. Song
    Martin Luther said that, “My heart which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.” Worship music also has the ability usher our lonely hearts into the sweetness of God’s presence.

Through dwelling in the word, abiding in prayer, and living in song we cultivate a sense of the nearness of God and are given strength to endure the inevitable seasons of loneliness that come from living in a fallen world. Of course, if we can, we must avail ourselves of the other remedies God has provided for loneliness, including the church, family, counseling, and medical attention.

However, we sometimes endure seasons when we cannot avail ourselves of these other remedies. For instance, I have been chronically ill for 13 years and have had numerous seasons of unavoidable isolation due to my condition. My own greatest consolation in these seasons of difficulty has been the constant companionship of that one truest friend—Jesus Christ. Undoubtedly, the single greatest antidote to loneliness is the love of God.

So, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”  (Matthew 11:28).

[1] In Atheism, “God” is everywhere absent – as He does not exist. Therefore, He cannot actually help us when we are lonely. In Pantheism, “god” is everywhere but as an impersonal spirit. Consequently, “god” is of no practical benefit when we are in need of a friend. In Polytheism, the gods were not only bound by space and time but, if they were in the vicinity when you were feeling sad and lonely, it is likely that they were the cause of your misery. In Deism, God transcends space and time but is personally uninvolved and uninterested in what goes on within space and time. Therefore, He is unavailable to us in our times of need.

[2] As the many in the early church said, God “contains all things and He alone is uncontained.”

[3] Herman Bavinck writes, “Scripture…refers to God’s going, coming, walking, and coming down. It employs human language, the kind of language to which we too are bound…It is therefore a good thing in connection with each attribute to remind ourselves that we are speaking of God in human terms.”

Nourishment, Delight, and Fellowship: The purpose of Food in the Chronicles of Narnia

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This article was originally published by IntersectProject: ORIGINAL POST

Food and drink are essential to life: both for its sustainment and its enjoyment. Over the last two years I have found out how true that is. In October of 2017, I was diagnosed with acute starvation. Collateral damage from Chronic Lyme treatment had destroyed my body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Dropping just below 110lbs, I was losing the ability to walk and told that I came dangerously close to losing my life.

Thankfully, I was able to avoid a feeding tube with an elemental diet (a pre-digested drink with all the calories and nutrients you need) that saved and sustained me. Recently, my GI system has recovered to the point that I am able to eat blended soups – consisting of potatoes and some combination of carrots, beets, parsnips and squashes – along with a small amount of chicken (and a little ghee).

During this time of healing I have learned:

  1. There is still a mysterious delight in watching other people, like my wife, enjoy the foods and drinks they love.
  2. By God’s grace, I am still able to find delight in the foods from my limited menu. God is teaching me that He really does intend for us to “laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man,” even when “there’s hunger in the land,” as King Lune tells Cor in The Horse and His Boy.
  3. Regardless of what’s on the menu, I am still able to participate in that most meaningful aspect of a meal: fellowship. Love is a joy that even starvation can’t steal.

One thing I have been doing during this extended time in my sick-bed is reading C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. It has struck me in a whole new way how prominent a role food and drink play in the series. The necessity of food and drink is, undoubtedly, a dominant theme.

In the following two-part post, I would like to look at what we can learn about God’s purposes for a meal from The Chronicles of Narnia. In this first post, we will look at how a meal has been designed by God to nourish and delight, as well as to facilitate fellowship. In the second post we will explore a meal’s ability to heal and to serve as a sign of our ultimate future.

Food Is for Nourishment & Delight

We are biologically embodied beings. As such, we cannot function without food, at least not for very long (as I can attest), and not very well for the time we can go without it. Humans do no better without food and drink than a car does without gas and oil. Which is of course why the Pevensie children are so “worried” that not having any food supplies will make the mission to rescue Mr. Tumnus from the White Witch quite impossible, and why Mrs. Beaver is more concerned about packing enough provisions than she is about getting as big a head start on the White Witch as possible: “You didn’t think we’d set out on a journey with nothing to eat, did you?” (Book 2); why Shasta’s saddle bags are stocked with “meat pasty…dried figs and…cheese,” (Book 3); and why the crew on the Dawn Treader must strictly ration food and drink when a storm diminishes their supplies (Book 5).

Even when Archenland is in urgent need of military reinforcements, Narnia’s troops, led by King Edmund, stop on the way “for a halt and a morsel!” (B3). Why do the Narnians always “want some breakfast,” as Trumpkin says, “before everything else” (B4)?[1] Because Lewis (no stranger to real battle), and by extension Lewis’ characters, know that without breakfast, so to speak, one cannot do anything else. We are meal-dependent creatures.[2]

In addition to being a biological necessity, food and drink are an aesthetic delight. Food is for pleasure as well as for fuel. Hence the aesthetic diversity of food’s colors, tastes and smells. In The Chronicles we see this rich diversity in the various kinds of cuisines consumed by the various nations and creatures. For example: Calormene cuisine (e.g. “lobsters, and salad, and snipe stuffed with almonds and truffles”); Narnian (e.g. “roasted meat…wheaten cakes…honey and many-colored sugars and cream as thick as porridge and as smooth as still water, peaches, nectarines, pomegranates, pears, grapes, strawberries, raspberries – pyramids and cataracts of fruit”); Centaur (e.g. “cakes of oaten meal, and apples”); and Tree People (e.g. “earth [of]…rich brown loam…[and] chalky soil”).

Regardless of the kind of meal or creature, according to Lewis, you know you’ve had a good meal when it results in “a long sigh of contentment.” To the point, God gave us taste buds for a reason.

Food Is for Fellowship

The rhythm of eating and drinking has been built into the world, from the beginning, to remind us where life comes from, to whom we owe thanks, and to perpetually draw us back into loving communion with God and one another (Matthew 6:25-26). In other words, food is not just for nourishment and personal delight; it is for fellowship and mutual delight.

My favorite example of what we might call the “fellowship function” of food and drink is in Book 4 after Prince Caspian has spent a few days with the “Old Narnians.” Lewis writes:

“To sleep under the stars, to drink nothing but well water and to live chiefly on nuts and fruits, was a strange experience for Caspian after his bed with silken sheets…at the castle, with meals laid out in gold and silver dishes…and attendants ready at his call. But he had never enjoyed himself more. Never had sleep been more refreshing nor food tasted more savoury…

Why was everything so much better? Because, as Caspian explained when he first met the Old Narnians: “I’ve been looking for people like you all my life.” As we know from experience, the satisfaction we find in a meal is greatly enhanced (or hindered) by the company we keep at a meal and by its occasion. This was Caspian’s first time feasting with those who saw food and drink as gifts, which facilitated bodily nourishment and relational delight; instead of as a mere practical necessity or hedonistic indulgence (the Telmarines perspective).

In Narnia meals are designed to bring people together. They are an occasion for:

  1. Sharing the “fruits” of one’s labors. For example, the Bulgy Bears offer Prince Caspian “some honey” and the Squirrel offers him “a nut” (B4);
  2. Swapping stories. As Peter says while “eating hot fish with no forks, and one pocket knife between five people,” to the Dwarf, “You tell us your story first” … “And then we’ll tell you ours” (B4), and;
  3. Possibly dancing and playing games. For instance, “that night there was a great feast in Cair Paravel, and revelry and dancing…” in Book 2, or the “grand feast” at the end of Book 3 when “tales were told and jokes were cracked” and the “King’s poet” sang such a tale that “when it was over [Aravis and Cor] wished it was going to begin again.”

In other words, Lewis depicts meals as an inherently festive activity. Not to say that there are not sad or lonely meals (e.g. Edmund eating “dry bread” by himself in B2, or the “very poor appetites” everyone had when Eustice went missing and the dragon showed up in B5), but that Aslan’s original intent was for a meal to be a festive occasion.

Before closing, note that in Narnia the measure of a good neighbor is the invitation to a meal. And like in the Bible (Luke 10:25-37), any and everyone, including those who are not like us, qualifies as a neighbor. As a quick example, consider the diversity of creatures the White Witch sees in Book 2 when the snow finally begins to thaw: “A little way off at the foot of a tree sat a merry party, a squirrel and his wife with their children and two satyrs and a dwarf and an old dog-fox, all on stools around a table.” Meals are supposed to cultivate neighborliness.

The Sacredness of Meals

I believe what C.S. Lewis has taught us, with regard to these first two purposes, is that meals are sacred events—rituals where we acknowledge our dependence on God and one another (at least tacitly); and learn the art of thankfulness, sharing, conversation and festivity (or at least we should).

As Christians, I pray these truths will inspire us to be more intentional with the way we cultivate, cook and consume our meals. The question we should all be asking ourselves is: Do my current eating and drinking habits demonstrate that Jesus is Lord of my kitchen (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

Editor’s Note: Come back next week to read part 2 of this article.


Jonathan Darville has had a varied and wide-ranging career. He worked in the fashion industry in New York, modeling for clients such as Louis Vuitton, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. He helped lead the New York branch of an international non-profit ministry. He has also served as a Master Trainer for The Center for Leadership Studies, training men and women in Fortune 500 companies in Leadership and Management theory and practice across America.


[1] This includes before making plans: “Let us refresh ourselves…After that, to our plans” (B6). Of course, attending to injuries, such as “Puddleglum’s burnt foot,” and immediate danger are exceptions.

[2] The necessity of food for creaturely flourishing is why Aslan asks the Cabby, who is to be the first King of Narnia, if he can “use a spade and a plow and raise food out of the earth?” and is unconcerned with how much formal “eddycation,” he’s had (B1). And why “hunting parties,” “fishing,” and “planting the orchard outside the north gate of Cair Paravel” are depicted as so important (B4/B5).

A Horse, His Boy, and Providence: A Reflection on a Forgotten Doctrine from The Chronicles of Narnia

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This article was originally published by IntersectProject: ORIGINAL POST


Providence is that unseen work of God by which He upholds, governs and orchestrates all things.[1] Recently, this foundational doctrine has fallen on hard times. Deism’s and Atheism’s influence on our culture’s imagination has caused providence to all but fade from popular consciousness (even in the Church).

This loss of providence is a disadvantage to living at our point in history; as in former generations,[2] it was readily acknowledged that a healthy understanding of, and trust in, providence was essential to confidently face the trials we have been called to endure in this world.

It’s hard to make sense of suffering if you believe ​everything is a product of chance or personal choice. In our day, we assume everything is either the result of natural causes or that we are “the masters of our fate and the captains of our souls,” to slightly reword the oft-quoted poem Invictus by William Henley. But ultimately, we dance not to the tune of chance or choice, but of providence. And it is much easier to make sense of suffering for unknown greater purposes if you know that “from life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands [our] destiny.”

That is to say, we can “count it all joy” as opposed to sorrow (James 1:2) and “mourn with hope” instead of without it (1 Thessalonians 4:13), if the truth of providence is in our heads and hearts. Having been chronically ill for 12 years, almost losing my life 22 months ago to acute starvation, and writing this article from a temporarily bed-ridden state, I can testify there is no more comforting doctrine than providence.

Providence in The Chronicles of Narnia

Outside of the Bible, I think one of the places we might learn about providence best is in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia—especially in The Horse and His Boy. We see Aslan sing Narnia into existence in The Magician’s Nephew and deliver Narnia from “the Witch and the Winter” in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But we probably “see” providence most clearly in The Horse and His Boy.

The Horse and His Boy is the third book in the series. In it, a talking horse named Bree and a boy named Shasta team up to escape from captivity and find their way to Narnia. Along the way, they “happen” to meet up with another talking horse named Hwin and a girl named Aravis, who are also fleeing various forms of captivity: “Their journey is charged with fear and danger, intrigue and adventure” as they “soon find themselves at the center of a terrible battle…a battle that will decide their fate and the fate of Narnia itself.”

Two passages in particular illustrate the doctrine of providence well. Hopefully, these passages can renew our theological imaginations and animate our wills to lean into the reality of providence in our daily lives.

First, some context. After Shasta and his comrades narrowly escape the attack of a lion (not their first), Shasta is tasked to go on alone to warn the King of Archenland of an impending attack. Afterwards, Shasta gets separated from the King and his men and “happens” to find his way to Narnia—where, of course, he is providentially able to notify the Narnians of Archenland’s need for military aid. The first quote is from Shasta’s journey to Narnia, where along the way he is suddenly accompanied by a large creature. The second quote is from Shasta’s journey with the Narnian troops back to Archenland:

” ‘I do not call you unfortunate,’ said the Large Voice. ‘Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?’ said Shasta. ‘There was only one lion,’ said the Voice… ‘I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.’

” They were going…along the edge of a precipice and Shasta shuddered to think that he had done the same last night without knowing it, ‘But of course,’ he thought, ‘I was quite safe. That is why the Lion kept on my left. He was between me and the edge all the time.’

Aslan is behind everything that happened in Shasta’s life: from ensuring his safety as a baby lost at sea, to protecting him from dangers he was entirely unaware of (jackals), to bringing him and Aravis together on their journey, to reuniting him with King Lune—who (spoiler alert) turns out to be his father! “He seems to be at the back of all the stories,” as Shasta says.

And we should note that Aslan’s providence is not portrayed as being limited to the good things that happen in the story. Even the characters wounds are portrayed as directly caused or sovereignly permitted by the “Lord of the whole wood” (cf. Romans 8:28, Gen 32:25, and Job). In other words, Aslan works ​all things together (good and bad—even His own death) to accomplish His benevolent purposes for the world that He so lovingly brought into being.[3]

Providence in Our Daily Lives

Likewise, in our non-fictional but still enchanted lives, Christ is providentially directing the events of history to accomplish His sovereign purposes. He is ultimately behind everything that happens in our lives—working things out for His greater glory and our greater good.

Do you know what this (providence) means? First, it means we don’t ever need to try to manipulate, unethically manufacture or autonomously engineer anything in our lives (health, political outcomes, romance, job opportunities, grades, etc.). Christ is sovereign over all our circumstances—including unpleasant circumstances (such as illness, infertility or unemployment). Consequently, we can simply trust and obey, knowing Christ truly does have “the whole world in His hands.”

Of course, we should ethically pursue noble ends such as health and justice and marriage and good grades. My point is simply that we do not ordain outcomes and that in a fallen world, we “will have trouble” (John 16:33) as well as treasure (James 1:7).

However, there are things higher on Christ’s priority list than you and I “living our best life,” as defined by the world. Our real “best life now” is one in which we have been called to “share in Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:13); to “put on the full armor of God, so that [we] can take [our] stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11); and to “count others more significant than ourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

In other words, like Shasta, our present story is one of adventure and danger. We have been providentially conscripted into Christ’s army to do battle “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). We too are at the center of a battle—a battle that will decide the fate of the men and women of this world.

Providence and The Great Commission

For the Church, then, providence also means that like Lucy and Susan in Book 2, we are called to leave behind the familiar and the comfortable and accompany our great Aslan as He breathes new life into people and overcomes the enemies of the true and greater Narnia—the Kingdom of God. That is to say, God calls us to take up our Kingdom-issued crosses and follow Christ. And as those who lived in Narnia during the days of false rulers and long winters discovered, to do this well, we must renew our own trust “in the seemingly impossible providence of unseen powers,” to borrow phrasing from Greg Forster.

Indeed, it is only because we know that: 1. “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39), and 2: that there isn’t “any such thing as Luck” (good or bad) because outcomes are determined by the Lord Christ, that we can charge into this spiritual battle unafraid with the gospel in one hand and mercy in the other.

Trust in God’s providence enables us to say along with Paul that, “it is [our] eager expectation and hope that [we] will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in [our bodies], whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).

And if it happens to be by death for any of us, remember this: that Great Lion who sung us into existence and redeemed us on the rock, is providentially present in our pain (Hebrews 13:5) and has promised us an eternal inheritance that “can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). So, may we all heed Aslan’s call to be “the first in the charge and the last in retreat,” because He really will put everything “to rights” in the end (Revelation 21).

DarvilleJonathan Darville has had a varied and wide-ranging career. He worked in the fashion industry in New York, modeling for clients such as Louis Vuitton, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. He helped lead the New York branch of an international non-profit ministry. He has also served as a Master Trainer for The Center for Leadership Studies, training men and women in Fortune 500 companies in Leadership and Management theory and practice across America.

[1] “God is completely in charge of his world. His hand may be hidden, but his rule is absolute” –J.I. Packer 

[2] One thinks of The Declaration of Independence: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor; or Abraham Lincoln’s First State of the Union Address: “With a reliance on Providence, all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us.

[3] Note, it is providence that gives the larger story its narrative coherence and its characters the spiritual resources they need to persevere.