Revelations of Divine Love is the oldest surviving book in the English language that is written by a woman. The author, Julian of Norwich, once wrote “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
Julian lived from 1342 to 1416 and almost nothing is known of her personal life—even her real name. The name “Julian” is taken from St Julian’s Church in Norwich, England, where she spent much of her life living in a small room adjacent to the church, praying and offering spiritual counsel to the people in her region.
Saint Julian records many encounters with Jesus in her writings. She describes plague, war and a near-death experience, but continues to return to the famous phrase spoken to her by Jesus in a vision, assuring her that all things will be put right. It ends with the statement “all manner of things shall be made exceeding well”.
Something about this phrase speaks to me. Julian wrote these words because Jesus had shown her that He had already put sin, death, and the devil to right; and, if those things had been taken care of, there was nothing else to worry about. I believe that is true… but it’s one thing to believe it and another to truly live like I do.
Why do I worry? Like Julian, I either believe in the total, complete, mighty, more-than-able power of Jesus—or I do not. Sometimes choosing to believe takes all of my will and effort, but the loveliness (and challenge) of it is this: we either accept God’s goodness, or we don’t.
“All manner of things shall be well” is part of the fundamental belief of every Christian. There is a benevolent God, who has a name, who lived in a particular time in history, who died on a cross, but who didn’t stay dead. He is kind, generous, forgiving, and good. He has promised that He will make everything well, forever, and He will.
The most common argument that I’ve heard against the existence of the Christian God has been, essentially, that “God doesn’t care”—He isn’t benevolent but indifferent. Agnostics take things a step further as they reflect back the image of their god and say instead, “we are indifferent.” Before they have a chance to be rejected by God, they reject Him.
In contrast, our society says it is childish—almost foolish—to believe in a God who is good. In order to partake in the Christian life, I have been learning that I must slowly observe the world around me and choose to choose God.
The following passage comes from the second half of 1 Corinthians:
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?…God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe…For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength…Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong…It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. – 1 Corinthians 1: 20-30 (NIV)
I repeat the “all is well” phrase to myself and to others many times a day. Not because I’m strong or smart, but because of Jesus—who I can depend on all the time. On a good day there are many reasons I know I can depend on Him, but too often I forget.
My prayer is that I will be able to choose to know, especially in the moments that it makes the least “sense” to me, that “all manner of things shall be made exceeding well”.