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Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence JBaptist Saint-Jure

August 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

Book Club INTERNAL IMAGE (internal to post) 600x214 for post on divine providence

A doctor…orders leeches to be applied. While these small creatures are drawing blood from the patient their only aim is to gorge themselves and suck up as much of it as they can. The doctor’s only intention is to have the impure blood drawn from the patient and to cure him in this manner. There is therefore no relation between the insatiable greed of the leeches and the intelligent purpose of the doctor in using them. The patient himself does not protest at their use. He does not regard the leeches as evildoers. Rather he tries to overcome the repugnance the sight of their ugliness causes and help them in their action, in the knowledge that the doctor has judged it useful for his health.

God makes use of men as the doctor does of leeches. Neither should we then stop to consider the evilness of those to whom God gives power to act on us or be grieved at their wicked intentions, and we should keep ourselves from feelings of aversion towards them. Whatever their particular views may be, in regard to us they are only instruments of well-being, guided by the hand of an all-good, all-wise, all-powerful God, who will allow them to act on us only in so far as is of use to us. It is in our interest to welcome instead of trying to repel their assaults, as in very truth they come from God. And it is the same with all creatures of whatever kind. Not one of them could act upon us unless the power were given it from above. – Trustful Surrender of Divine Providence, pg. 22-23 (TAN)

I’ve always had what many call a “Type A” personality. Particularly in my younger years. If something needed to be done, I did it. If I had a goal, I laid steps out on paper and proceeded to accomplish it. I believed I could do anything I set my mind to.  I never believed that I was indestructible like many of the boys I knew, but I did feel safe and ultimately in control of my life.

And then, one crisp friday Nebraska evening in November of 1991, my feelings of security and control were torn from my grasp.

It was only 6:45 as I drove home from work in below freezing temperatures, but it was dark; and, with wind chill the temperature was ten degrees below zero. Upon reaching my apartment complex, I hustled out of my car, keys in hand and headed toward the door, feeling the wind bite into my skin. Coming up behind me was a young man with a bandana over his mouth – it was that cold, so I had no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary. I actually held the door open for him.

As soon as we were inside, he seized me violently, placed a large butcher knife to my throat and proceeded to drag me toward the door. Just as he started pulling me, I grabbed onto the stair railing, holding on for dear life. I yelled over and over again, “I can’t see your face, I can’t see your face, I can’t see your face…” For some crazy reason, I thought that if he knew I couldn’t turn him in, he’d let me go. In the end, my resistance won out. There was only one door to my apartment complex, and to stand there much longer risked someone else walking in or exiting an apartment. So he left, leaving me without a scratch, but taking my purse and all my confidence with him, right out into the night.

I heard later from detectives that the perpetrator  was a serial rapist and that my hanging on to that railing probably saved my life, or my purity. Yes, I thanked God that I was safe. And yes, there was a bit of “Whew!” when all was said and done. But not much. There was much more of “What if…?” What if I had not held on? What if he had forced me outside? What if he’d waited until I unlocked the door to my empty apartment? What if he’d sliced my throat? What if…what if….what if…?

Needless to say, from that moment on, I was fearful. For the first time in my life, I realized that I was NOT in control. That I was vulnerable.  I could pretend to be in control, but the reality was that I could never tell what would be around the next corner.

For years, I did not get on elevators with an individual I didn’t know. I was afraid to be alone outside at night. I refused to take the trash out by myself. I heard things when I was alone in our house, and I was very nervous when my husband traveled.

It’s not that I lacked faith. I believed that God would take care of me. Sort of. But when it came to violence, I believed in the doctrine of free will. In my mind, if someone committed a violent act, well, the God of the universe would stand idly by and let him (or her – not trying to be sexist here) commit the sin. Not that He lacked compassion.  But that was just part of the deal. If we could just stop sinning, we wouldn’t have all the suffering and tragedy caused by free will. But as it stood, they were still here, and therefore, just because there was a God didn’t mean I would always be safe. Hence, my fear.

Well, there was a key component missing in my understanding, which this book introduced. God was not standing idly by. He was right there. He was the doctor that I needed. If in his Passive will, he allowed evil to happen to me, I could rest in the knowledge that it was for my own good. He ONLY willed my Good. Once I recognized that, I knew that even if something bad happened, it would be OK. I could be thankful even for evil that was hoisted upon me, because the Eternal Doctor felt I needed something special at that moment in my life.

This was a HUGE realization for me. I first read this book 10 years ago, and since then, I kid you not – I have not been afraid. That’s not to say that I’ve been reckless. I recognize my responsibility to care for this temple of the Holy Spirit with which I’ve been blessed. But I no longer fear taking out the trash. I no longer fear being home alone.

Every time I’m tempted to fear, this book comes to mind right away. And I’m able to calm myself – and actually feel secure. This applies not only in my personal life, but when I consider natural disasters and political turmoil. All these things have ceased to threaten my peace.

I’ve read this book several times, now – whenever I need a reminder – and I can honestly say that this quote has taught me to trust God with my life. It has had more of an impact on my sense of peace than any other book I’ve ever read. As I’ve said before, reading this book has made me feel safe – I finally understand and even feel warm when I hear the song He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.


Discussion Questions:

I’ve met a few people who found this quote very difficult to grasp. How did it effect you?

We often refer to God as the Doctor of Souls or the Master Physician, especially when it comes to the Sacrament of Penance. Does this passage change your view of that role, or does it reinforce it? In what way?


Schedule (TAN version):

Week 1 (Aug. 7) pg. 11-52

Week 2 (Aug. 14) pg. 53-97

Week 3 (Aug. 21) pg. 97-139

Happy Reading!

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About Vicki Burbach

Vicki Burbach is a wife and homeschooling mother of six children ages four to sixteen years who relishes the calm inspiration of spiritual reading amidst the roller coaster of life. A passionate convert to the Faith, Vicki is an avid reader who started the book club so she could embark with like-minded bibliophiles on a spiritual journey through some of the greatest Catholic books ever written. She is author of the new book How to Read Your Way to Heaven - A Spiritual Reading Program for the Worst of Sinners, the Greatest of Saints, and Everyone in Between. You can also find her at

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