"A person is continually led by the Lord in freedom" (Divine Providence 43)

The Lord wants nothing more than to bring happiness to everyone. But He knows that we cannot be happy unless we are free to choose between loving what is good or loving what is evil. So the Lord protects our freedom while leading us toward the greatest happiness that we will accept. He never wills for bad things to happen, but He does allow or permit them—for the sake of human freedom and to keep evil under control. Evil deeds are permitted so that we can recognize evil and then freely reject it and turn toward the Lord. True freedom—spiritual freedom—is not the absence of all constraint, but rather the free acceptance of the Lord’s leadership in our lives.

Divine Providence is the means by which the Lord governs His creation. The story of the prophet Jonah illustrates how the Lord’s Divine providence works. Jonah is permitted to run away from the Lord instead of obeying Him. Jonah’s choice brought serious consequences. Bad consequences can help to wake us up to the wrong of what we have done, as Jonah was literally awakened as he lay sleeping in the ship. When we recognize an evil for what it is, then we must choose between persisting in what is wrong or changing and doing what is good. As Jonah prayed to the Lord from the belly of the great fish, we, too, can ask the Lord to help us choose the better way, to lead us in the way everlasting.

We hope these materials will help you to understand why the Lord permits evils in the natural world and to appreciate His gentle providence which is always leading us toward a better and happier life to eternity. 

Highlights include

Quotes from the Lord's Word about Divine Providence and the Permission of Evil

Concept Article: "How Providence Works"
by the Rev. B. David Holm 

An Overview of Projects and Activities for Families
Projects and activities about Divine Providence, Jonah and the Great Fish, Freedom, Permitting Evil, Consequences, and When the Lord Foresees Evil. 

"Four Kinds of Freedom" by the Rev. Dan Goodenough
Although our freedom of action may be limited in the world, the Lord protects our spiritual freedom - our ability to choose between good and evil. What we do with our spiritual freedom will lead us into a state of heavenly freedom or its opposite which is the slavery of hellish freedom.

  "How the Lord Saved Jonah" by the Rev. Kurt Horigan Asplundh (PDF) 
An illustrated story for young children.

  Jonah's Prayer Poster (PDF)
A printable poster with Jonah's prayer surrounded by a beautiful border.

  Picture Cards for Sequencing the Story of Jonah (PDF)
Can you put the pictures of events in the Jonah story in their correct order?

  Religion Project for the Story of Jonah and the Great Fish (ages 6-8) (PDF)
Make a sock puppet fish and a finger puppet for Jonah, then act out the story.