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Divine Providence- A Reflection

“…Everything Na Double Double…”

Every now and then “gospel” or religious lyrics spring up as bestseller, song-of-the-year, best singer thriller – the likes of Jerusalema in past months.  For the past twelve years or so, a preacher-singer stormed Sub-Saharan Africa with the pidgin English melodies and lyrics of e e e my God is good ooh…!  Like all thrillers it had millions of fans and followers devouring, mimicking and claiming it good for the ears and pleasing to the soul – the typical simplistic Pentecostal prosperity prophesies that at once delight both as one’s portion and pain killer. That God’s goodness brings blessings in two’s, blessings and prosperity, double-double!

That was the song that set, the hopeful and the hopeless, the busy and the idle, the business people and the prayer warriors, the drunkards and the beggars, the givers and the receivers, leaping and nodding like never before, that their blessings were coming in double portions from heaven – Divine Providence at its best.

In that ecstasy, there was no begging of the question, what if! What if there are no blessings, or what if the blessings are in small, subtle or single portions; or most importantly, what if the God of blessings was precedent and present even in suffering?

Fast forward to covid19-21, to the pandemic in Europe, Asia, Americas, South Africa.  The tone, the pitch and the melodies of prosperity gospel have mellowed or shifted – to perhaps the scapegoat mechanism? A reflection in the Universe last year called it the Holy Howlers… 

But apart from the dead/dying that “go in three’s” as I was cautioned in our retirement home, everything indeed continues to be na double-double.  Double blessings, double tragedies (for when it rains and pours and storms rage) – the lockdowns, the second wave; the virus, the (per)mutation and variations!

It particularly struck me during the Christmas Octave, on the feast of Holy Innocents when, besides the weeping Rachel in Rama for her crushed children, the mourning/exaltation of the Innocent children murdered in order that the infant King be done away with, I stumbled, here in Sunderland, onto a monument of the 183 children crushed to death on 16th June 1883, in a stampede craving for gifts and treats. Lord have mercy!

But, lest one sinks in the “gospel” of tragedy or melancholy, as opposed to that of prosperity or comedy, one can always revert to that of Providence; not so much cautiously as gratefully and graciously.  The mere fact that we are still alive? The fact that we are on mission – in mission? That we are loved and we love? That we serve and are served? That we see beggars and are beggars ourselves – in our churches, on the streets, in our families?

May this double year of COVID-19 and the doubling years of war be transformative to us in this Year of St Joseph as was the Year of Mercy!

Emmanuel Mbeh mhm.

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