Archive for September, 2011
Yielding Fruit in Season
Rev. Dr. David J. Fekete
September 25, 2011
Numbers 13:17-27 Luke 6:43-49 Psalm 1
In honor of Johnny Appleseed Day I thought I would talk about fruit, bearing fruit, and multiplying fruit, or fructification. It would be nice if I could find Bible passages that talked only about apples. But there are only 10 passages in the whole Bible about apples. Four are references to “the apple of his eye.” One is a metaphor in which a fair ruling in court is compared to an apple of gold. Four are romantic verses from the Song of Solomon. And one is about fruits like the apple tree withering. None of these references seemed fitting to use as a text for a sermon. But when we consider fruit in general, we find many fruitful passages.
Our reading from Psalm 1 talks about a person whose delight is in the law of the Lord. Such a person is compared to a tree that yields its fruit in season; its leaf does not wither; and whatever such a person does prospers. We will talk about this comparison of a person to a fruit tree a little later. Our reading from Numbers is about the spies’ report concerning the Holy Land. They bring back fruit from it: a cluster of grapes, some pomegranates, and some figs. The fruit from the Holy Land was evidence of its richness. Jesus uses the metaphor of fruit to talk about His true followers. He says, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit.” He explains the metaphor by saying that, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart.” What Jesus means is that just as a tree bears fruit, so a good man brings forth good things from his good heart. The lesson is to bring forth good fruit. And if this weren’t clear enough, Jesus says outright, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” This verse clearly teaches that to be a true follower of Jesus, we need to put into practice the things that He says. Bearing fruit means doing the good things that Jesus teaches. We need to do good.
Some protestant churches are uncomfortable when we talk about doing good. They are uncomfortable for two reasons. First, they think that Paul says that we are saved by faith, not good works. One classic passage they are fond of quoting is from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, 2:15-16. There, Paul says,
a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Christ Jesus. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. . . .
From this passage they find the doctrine that we are saved by faith. They interpret the law as meaning all the good deeds mentioned in the Old Testament. So they come up with the doctrine that we are saved by faith, not good works. The second reason why they are uncomfortable when we talk about doing good is their revolt against Catholicism. They think that Catholics claim that by doing good deeds we can earn heaven. So they think that Catholics claim that by giving to charities, going to mass, and saying prayers, for example, we earn the grace we need for salvation. Protestants call this putting merit in good works, or in other words, taking credit for doing good.
But we all know intuitively that we need to do good to be heavenly. Jesus’ words could hardly be clearer, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart.” When Paul says that we are not saved by works of the law, he is not referring to all good deeds. Actually he is referring to the purity rituals of the Jews of his time, such as circumcision, kosher diet, and the many rules of behavior compiled by the rabbis of his time. In fact, in the same letter to the Galatians, Paul says,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, 23).
So it is clear that we need to be good to come into heaven. It is also true that putting merit in good works, or claiming that we deserve heaven because we have done good deeds, is harmful. How, then, are we to do good so that it is heavenly good and not meritorious good?
The answer is that we are to do good that comes from a heart of love. As Paul says,
Serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:13, 14).
When our good will comes forth in good actions, then we are doing good in a heavenly way. Then our good deeds are like a tree bearing fruit.
Swedenborg says that, “By fruits are signified the goods of love and charity” (AR 933). He explains this idea in greater depth in the Heavenly Secrets. There, he makes clear that the fruits of faith are good deeds that come from good will, or a good heart. Then he goes into even more depth. He says that love to the neighbor comes from a love for God. And then ultimately, the fruits of faith are God Himself.
Good works are the fruit of faith in the external sense or that of the letter, but those good works have no life unless they proceed from charity; and thus the fruit of faith in the next interior sense is charity. But as charity or love toward the neighbor ought to proceed from love to the Lord, this love is the fruit of faith in the internal sense; and as all love is from the Lord, it is the Lord Himself. For thus in the good work is charity; in charity is love to the Lord; and in love to the Lord is the Lord Himself (AC 1873).
This passage tells us that love to the Lord is the source of our good works. Only when we are filled with love are our good works heavenly.
As Jesus says, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart.” This teaching tells us is that in order to bring forth good things, we need a good heart. Our good heart is the love we have in our souls. The good things that we bring forth are the deeds that we do from our loving hearts. This can be thought of as inner and outer. Or in Swedenborg’s language, internal and external. Our loving hearts are internal and our good deeds are external. So we read,
Charity and good works are distinct from each other like intention and action, and like the mind’s affection and the body’s operation; consequently, also, like the internal person and the external . . . therefore charity, because it is of the internal person, is to intend well; and the works, because they are of the external person, are to do well from intending well (TCR 374).
This is how we are like fruit trees. Our good intentions are like seeds. When we use our wisdom to bring these good intentions into act, we are like the tree that prepares the way for flowers and fruit. Then when our good intentions flow through our minds into deeds, we produce fruit. Then our whole person is involved in the good deed. It may be easy to see that good intentions and good deeds are connected. But the place of wisdom in this process may be a little harder to see. When we want to do something good, we need to find the right occasion, and we need to know how to do good so that the result will also be good. Giving money to a beggar may not always be a good deed. He may use the money to fuel an addiction. Or he may beg to avoid taking responsibility for his own life. We may feel compassion for a homeless person and from love we may want to help him. Perhaps giving him some food would be a more appropriate way to show love than tossing him some money and walking away. I use this example to show why we need to use wisdom when we intend to do something good. As Swedenborg says, our mind shows us, “when and how” we are to act in order to bring about good deeds. This whole process–the good intention working through our understanding, or our mind, to bring about good acts–is like a tree bearing fruit.
The intention searches the understanding for the means and modes of arriving at its ends which are effects; and in the understanding it places itself in the light, that it may see not only the reasons but also the occasions, when and how it is to determine itself into acts, and thus produce its effects which are works . . . This may be illustrated by comparison with a tree. The person himself, in all that belongs to him, is like a tree. In the seed of the tree are concealed . . . the end, intention, and purpose of producing fruits; in these the seed corresponds to the intention with a person . . . Then the seed from its interiors shoots up from the earth, clothes itself with branches, twigs, and leaves, and so prepares for itself means to the ends which are fruits; in these the tree corresponds to the understanding in a person. And finally, when the time comes, and there is opportunity for reaching the use, it bears blossoms, and yields fruits; in these the tree corresponds to good works with a person (TCR 374).
Like trees, we can be fruitful and multiply. We learn more truths. We feel a greater variety of heavenly affections. And our life becomes more and more perfected in heavenly uses and loving acts of charity. Swedenborg says that,
he who is being regenerated, after he has imbued the truths of doctrine, regards the goods of life in the first place, and in proportion as he does this, he ripens like fruit; and in proportion as he ripens, the seed in him becomes prolific (AR 84).
As trees produce seeds and multiply, so all the goods of a heavenly life will grow more abundant in us.
There is one final point I need to make about this fruitful way of life. I have said that good deeds that are truly good must come from a loving heart. But where does our loving heart come from? As you may guess, it is God Himself who gives us the heart that loves. Our love is actually God’s love in us. This is Swedenborg’s crucial and theologically brilliant term, “as if of self.” We do good as if it is ourselves that are doing the good. This means that to all appearances, it looks like we are the ones doing the good. But it is only as if. It is actually God in us that is doing the good. While it looks like we are doing the good, God is doing the good. This doctrine is as brilliant as it is necessary. It is brilliant because it makes us responsible for doing good, since we are the ones who appear to do it. But it also takes away any claim of merit or credit for the good we do. We can’t take credit for the good we do because it is actually God who is doing the good. The Lord lives in the love we feel, in the truths we love, and in the good deeds we do. Swedenborg sums up this complex doctrine in a simple phrase,
By fruits are signified the goods of love and charity, which are called good works . . . in the inmosts of the truths of doctrine and of life in the church is the Lord in His Divine Love, from whom all the goods which a person does apparently of himself (AR 933).
So we can with all eagerness bear fruit as the Bible instructs us to do. We can be like that fruit tree in Psalm 1 that bears fruit in season. We can be the grapes, pomegranates, and figs in the Promised Land. We can be the good tree that bears good fruit that Jesus speaks of. We can be the doer of good deeds without any of the nervousness that some churches worry about. We can be all these things because when we are a true fruit tree, it is God, the gardener, the source of all nature and life that is doing the good in us.
True Adult Innocence
Rev. Dr. David J. Fekete
September 18, 2011
Ezekiel 34:11-15 Mark 10:13-16 Psalm 19
This Sunday I would like to reflect on the subject of innocence. We immediately think of children when we consider innocence, and for that reason, I chose the New Testament passage in which Jesus praises children. And for an Old Testament reading I selected a passage from Ezekiel in which God says, “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep.” Being led by God, as we will see, is an essential aspect of heavenly innocence, so the Ezekiel passage treats directly of innocence, and does so as well by the use of the most innocent of animals, the sheep. But in Swedenborg’a theology, true innocence is an adult property. Not only can adults be innocent, like children, only adults are capable of true innocence. Swedenborg calls this adult innocence the innocence of wisdom.
Innocence is a very difficult quality to describe. We know it when we see it, but to describe just what it is isn’t very easy. Swedenborg acknowledges this,
Not many people in our world know what innocence is or what its quality is . . . It is, of course, visible to our eyes–something about the face and the voice and the gestures, especially of infants–but still we do not know what it is (HH 276).
But it is a quality that is imperative for our regeneration. This is why Jesus singles out little children and says, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:15). I would emphasize the phrase, “Like a little child.” We need to be like little children, not children themselves. Salvation is like the state of children. And this likeness to children is that elusive quality of innocence.
Swedenborg contrasts the innocence of children with the innocence of wisdom, which adults have. He says, surprisingly, that children do not possess real innocence. This is because they are not yet their own persons. They do not have a rational mind of their own. And all of our spirituality must be freely chosen according to our best understanding–or, in other words, according to adult rationality. So Swedenborg says,
The innocence of infancy, or of little ones, is not real innocence . . . because they do not have any internal thought–they do not yet know what good and evil are (HH 277).
Some may quibble with this passage and say that children know very well what it is to be good and bad. But I think that what Swedenborg means here is that children do not weigh options, consider choices, and decide on their best course of action. Children are spontaneous and unreflective. Furthermore, for the most part their understanding of good and bad is almost entirely what their parents tell them–not what they, themselves, have reasoned out on their own. The innocence of wisdom, however, is a property of an adult mind. It is chosen by the adult intellect and according to principles that an adult lives by. The exact age when a child attains the stage of rationality can be debated by child psychologists. For Swedenborg, it would be around late teen years.
The innocence of wisdom is real innocence because it is internal, being a property of the mind itself and therefore of our will and our consequent understanding (HH 278).
When Swedenborg does set himself the task of describing innocence, it is all in reference to a person’s relationship to God. Innocence is the acknowledgement that all the good a person does, and all the good things a person enjoys are from God. Innocence is the realization that God is the source of everything spiritual, and everything heavenly. This is the polar opposite of self-centeredness. It is God-centeredness.
Because they love nothing more than to be led of the Lord, and attribute all things they have received to Him, they are removed from self-centeredness, and as far as they are removed from self-centeredness, so far the Lord flows in (278).
When self-centeredness is removed, then a person desires the good things of heaven, which are love for God, of love of truth, and love for the neighbor. These qualities, these good things of heaven, then compose the person’s character and they are all acknowledged as coming from God, not from the self.
People in a state of innocence do not take credit for anything good, but ascribe and attribute everything to the Lord. They want to be led by Him and not by themselves, they love everything that is good and delight in everything that is true because they know and feel that loving what is good–that is, intending and doing good–is loving the Lord, and loving what is true is loving their neighbor (HH 278).
The most crucial point about adult innocence is this attribution of everything good to God. This, as I have said, is also a removal from self-centeredness. What makes this point so crucial is that only when God is acknowledged as the source of everything good, can a person open up to God’s influx. When we see and fully accept that all good is from God, then we are lifted out of what Swedenborg calls proprium. Proprium is a difficult concept, and it makes sense to import that Latin word into English since I don’t think that there is an English word that covers all that proprium means. Those who have been through spiritual growth can identify what proprium is. It is that sense of self, that self-driven action, that self-centered complex of desires, it is all that is self with a small “s”. Proprium is the source of everything evil in us. Spiritual rebirth, then, is to be lifted out of this psychological complex of self-orientation, and into a psychological complex that is God centered. Salvation, or the heavenly loves that save us, all come from God. In Heaven and Hell Swedenborg begins by saying that the Divine of the Lord is what makes heaven. Heaven is what proceeds from God. And when we have God in us, we have heaven in us. God is all the goodness, happiness, innocence, and joy that make heaven. When we have those qualities in us, we are in heaven. So this is why it is so crucial to acknowledge that God is the source of everything good. It lifts us out of proprium, and to the extent that we are lifted out of proprium God flows in, and all of heaven with Him. This is what Swedenborg means when he says, “as far as they are removed from self-centeredness, so far the Lord flows in” (HH 278). He says this again in another place. He says that the highest angels, “are separated from what is of themselves, so that they live as it were in the Lord” (HH 280). They live in the Lord. Or put another way, the Lord lives in them.
I don’t mean to diminish the innocence of children entirely. We all feel that God and the highest angels are close to little children. Try reading the Bible to a little child. The unconditional love that a child gives his or her parents comes straight from God. And children play together in a mutual charity that emulates that of angels filled with love for the neighbor. It is in this state of childhood that many of our feelings for God are born. These early feelings of love remain with us and are a dwelling place for God in our hearts. But children can’t lay claim to this innocence. And it sadly fades with the onset of maturity.
When an adult is in innocence, he or she desires nothing more than to be led by God, not by proprium, just as a little child is led by their parents. Swedenborg writes, “They want to be led by Him and not by themselves” (HH 278). Again, “they love nothing more than to be led by the Lord, and attribute all things they have received to Him” (HH 278). But let us not confuse this with being gullible or incapable of independent thought. In fact, those who are in true adult innocence are the wisest of people or angels. This is because they are filled with God. And God is Infinite Love and Infinite Wisdom. Innocent people indeed appear at time to be simple, but their good nature leads them to do and love everything that is Godly and good. This is what wisdom consists in.
They appear simple in outward form, and before the eyes of angels of the lower heavens they seem like children, thus as little ones, and also as not very wise, although they are the wisest of the angels of heaven (HH 280).
Since they ascribe all they have to God, God’s wisdom can flow into them and they are given spiritual perception and intelligence that far surpasses worldly intelligence. So Swedenborg writes of the truly innocent,
These for the most part appear simple in outward form, but they are wise and prudent inwardly. These are those who are meant by the Lord, “Be as prudent as serpents, and simple as doves (Matt. 10:16) (HH 278).
Those who receive more and more of God’s Infinite Love and Wisdom and who attribute everything to God become like children, but, as Swedenborg says, wise children,
Innocence attributes nothing of good to itself, but ascribes all good to the Lord, and because it thus loves to be led by the Lord, and from this is all reception of good and truth, from which is wisdom therefore a person is created so that . . . when he become old [he] becomes again like a child, but a wise child (HH 278).
I would emphasize here that a person who ascribes everything to God receives what is good and what is true in a preeminent sense. This would make their spiritual wisdom very great, indeed. There is a remarkable passage in Heaven and Hell about truly innocent people. The channels to God are so open, they can actually receive intuitive messages directly from God,
Divine truth, which they hear either immediately from the Lord of mediately from through the Word and preaching, they receive directly in the will and do it, and thus commit it to life (HH 280).
So the truly innocent can receive instruction directly from God, and as they ascribe everything to God they receive more than others God’s Infinite Wisdom. Also, the innocent immediately apply what they know to their lives, and have it written on their hearts and minds. This means that they would make the best choices and decisions in their lives, and that is what intelligence means.
As we know when we are around little children, and sometimes when we are in a spiritually healthy community, we can feel a wonderful bliss. This bliss can also come in prayer, in meditation, and especially when we are reading the Bible devoutly. This bliss is the state of innocence and its pure, heavenly enjoyment. I will conclude this reflection on innocence with a remarkable passage from Heaven and Hell,
Because innocence is the inmost in all the good of heaven, it so affects the mind of one who feels it–as on the approach of an angel of the inmost heaven–that he seems to himself to be no longer his own, and hence to be affected and as it were carried away with such a delight that every delight of the world appears to be nothing in comparison. I say this from having felt it (HH 282).
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Providence’s Winding Pathway
Rev. Dr. David J. Fekete
September 11, 2011
Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 Matthew 14:22-33 Psalm 105
The story of Joseph is a striking example of God’s Divine Providence. While Joseph goes through severe trials, the result of his journey is beneficial for all the players in his life–including himself. The way we journey as pilgrims in this life may be similar to Joseph. We may go through difficult times, we may appear lost at times, but for those who have a faith in God’s Providence, in retrospect, we can see that all the winding ways of our lives have resulted in spiritual growth for us.
In our Bible reading, things do not look good for Joseph. Hated by his own brothers, he is sold into slavery to the Midianites, who sell him to the Egyptians. In Egypt, other tragedies befall him. He is thrown into prison on false charges. But ultimately, Joseph rises to a position of power in Egypt. He rules as the Pharaoh’s right hand man. All of Egypt is under his command, except the Pharaoh’s own throne. Later, when the land of Israel experiences famine, Joseph gives food to his family, who travel to Egypt for aid. There is a tearful reunion of Joseph and his family. And in his position of power in Egypt, he is able to give his family the food they need. The very tragedy he experienced in his young years ended up with Joseph prospering immensely.
For many of us, life is a winding pathway through times of happiness and also times of sorrow and even despair. But all the while, God is leading us to heaven and heavenly joy and happiness. In every turn of our life’s direction God is leading us into greater love for Himself and for our neighbors, which is the same thing as saying that God is leading us to salvation. Swedenborg writes,
Providence continually regards what is eternal, and continually leads unto salvation, and this through various states, now glad, now sorrowful, which man cannot possibly comprehend, but still all are conducive to his eternal life (AC 8560).
When we look back on our lives, we see that the path we have followed has made us who we are. When we are in the depths of despair, and things look overclouded with sorrow, it is hard to maintain faith that God is still with us. There is that famous poem that we have on the wall downstairs called, “Footprints.” In that poem there are two sets of footprints on the beach. Then, for a time, there is only one set of footprints. The writer says to God, “Where where you when there were only one set of footprints,” thinking that those were his own footprints in a time of grief. God’s response is, “Those footprints were mine, when I was carrying you.” We can’t see Divine Providence working in our lives in the moment. But we can see Divine Providence when we look back on our lives. Swedenborg tells us,
It is granted to see the Divine Providence in the back and not in the face; also in a spiritual state and not in his natural state. To see the Divine Providence in the back and not in the face, is to see after the Providence and not before it; and to see it from a spiritual but not a natural state is to see it from heaven and not from the world. All who receive influx from heaven and acknowledge the Divine Providence, and especially those who by reformation have become spiritual, while they see events in some wonderful series, from interior acknowledgement they as it were see the Divine Providence, and they confess it (DP 187).
I know that when I look back on my own life, I can see that wonderful series of events that Swedenborg speaks of. And in my own life, I have experienced dark times, times when there were only one set of footprints on the beach. And as I look back, sometimes I wonder why God was carrying me, considering how angry I had become with Him. It is a measure of just how all loving God is. When I was in my twenties, I was preparing for ministry. I fully intended to become a Swedenborgian minister when I was thinking about my career at the age of twenty-three. So I enrolled in our church’s college, Urbana College. Urbana College isn’t a very well-known college in the US. But for Swedenborgian ministry, it is the best place to prepare for divinity school. From Urbana College, I went to our divinity school, the Swedenborg School of Religion. I was in our divinity school for five years when the church decided that it wouldn’t ordain me. That decision was reached in a three-hour-long meeting of the Council of Ministers while I awaited their decision outside the room. Since it was a closed meeting, to this day, I don’t know the whole story as to why they decided not to ordain me. I do know that I was an active alcoholic, and quite a loose cannon personally. When I heard the decision, I was enraged. From the time of my college years at Urbana College through my years in divinity school, I had put seven years of my life towards Swedenborgian ministry. I felt I had given my youth to the church, and it was all for nought. Furthermore, with only a degree from the unexceptional Urbana College and an unaccredited diploma from the Swedenborg School of Religion, I wasn’t in a very good position career-wise. While I was wallowing in gloom, one of the students said to me, “Oh, David, this may turn into something wonderful in time!” I didn’t want to hear this, and didn’t receive it very well. But it turns out he was right.
The course of my life proceeded into accredited graduate schools. First, my Master’s Degree at Harvard, and the my Ph. D. program at the university of Virginia. In these programs, my mind grew and expanded as I studied great works of literature and of the world’s religions. I became much more open minded. Before this, all I saw and knew was through the lens of Swedenborg. I judged by Swedenborgian doctrines. I was very narrow minded and parochial. Graduate study in religions of the world opened me up to people of other faiths, and taught me the interesting beliefs of other traditions and respect for people of other faiths. Then after all that intellectual work, I ended up in the mental health field in which my intellect was cut off as I worked with people’s moods. This looked like another setback, but it was another growing experience. My heart grew. I became more compassionate and my counselling skills improved. Then there was the gift of sobriety, without which I wouldn’t be able to receive any of these other gifts. There were also unexpected treats from God, like the gift of playing in a rock and jazz band. In the long run, I did become the Swedenborgian minister I wanted to be in my twenties, but I had so much more to bring to the ministry. I am now a much different minister than I would have been had I been ordained back then. Furthermore, by being kicked around by life, I grew more humble and my pride diminished. I’m actually glad for the way things turned out.
This narration exemplifies the passage from Swedenborg that I read at the beginning of this talk,
Providence continually regards what is eternal, and continually leads unto salvation, and this through various states, now glad, now sorrowful, which man cannot possibly comprehend, but still all are conducive to his eternal life (AC 8560).
Through all this, I became open to my neighbor. I saw that the immediate needs I thought I had to have, I could get along without. This is what is symbolized by the passage we heard from the New Testament. Jesus’ disciples are in a boat and a storm breaks out all around them. They are fighting against the wind. Waves and the turbulent sea symbolize temptations. They symbolize the despair a person goes through from time to time in life, and especially in one’s spiritual life. In the midst of this storm, Jesus comes to the disciples, walking on water and stills the storm. This signifies the state of peace that comes when temptations are quieted and new good has been insinuated into our minds and hearts. This would be like the compassion and open-mindedness that came to me through the trials in my life.
Temptations are not just allurements of the forbidden fruit. They are soul-stirring trials when we can’t see our way back to God and it seems we are on a course heading nowhere and lost. We can even despair of our salvation, and think ourselves bereft of the light of God’s love. These are the times when there are only one set of footprints on the sand. These periods break up our pride and teach us that we need God every hour and that all the blessings we have are gifts from God. Swedenborg speaks of,
a state of desolation caused by the privation of truth, the last stage of which state is despair. That despair is the last stage of that state, is because the thereby the enjoyment of the love of self and of the world is removed, and the enjoyment of the love of good and of truth instilled in its place; for in the case of those to be regenerated, despair has reference to spiritual life, and consequently to the privation of truth and good, since when they are deprived of truth and good, they despair of spiritual life; hence they have a sweet and blessed joy when they come out of their despair (AC 5279).
Would we humble ourselves and turn to God without such trials, I ask? There is a lyric from a song written by a friend of mine in Florida that goes, “Without those desperate times would we ever turn to you, and recognize our weakness?” I need to be clear, here, though. God does not send us these trials. It is we ourselves who bring them upon ourselves. It was my drinking and wild behavior that gave the Council of Ministers their doubts about me. God moderates these periods and guides them so that good will come of them and we will become more heavenly as a result.
So the path we take in this world is not necessarily an easy one. As Swedenborg tells us, “now glad, now sorrowful.” But Divine Providence does not let anything happen to us that does not conduce to our salvation and to greater conjunction with God and with heaven. Furthermore, all these trials bring us into greater love and this means into greater happiness. Through these temptations, Swedenborg tells us,
the Lord enters with affections of the love of the neighbor, and opens the window of his roof, and then the side windows, and makes him see that there is a heaven, a life after death, and eternal happiness; and by the spiritual light and at the same time by the spiritual love then flowing in, He makes him acknowledge that God governs all things by His Divine Providence (DP 201).
Those who trust in God can see this happening in their own lives. Whether we are now in a good state or whether we are now in a difficult state, we need to trust that God is with us, that God never gives up on us, and that God will bring us safely home to port. We need keep in mind the story of Joseph, and what looks bad now may turn into something wonderful down the road.