When I first spent time in Central America I noticed that people, most notably the poor and the people in the countryside, often used the phrase “Primero Dios” which literally means “First of all God.” However, I think it is often being used like “God willing.”
I also often hear people saying “Si Dios quiere,” if God wills it, when talking about a possible future event.
“Ojala” is another word which is often used here to express hope that something will happy. But the word comes from Arabic and is closely related to the Arabic “Insha’Allah,” which means “If God wills.”
That’s part of what James is writing about in today’s first reading (James 4:13-17):
You have no idea what tomorrow will bring….
…you should say “God willing, we will live and do this or that.”
We from the north presume we cannot only plan things but make them happen as we plan them. (This is a real temptation for me.)
We think we have it all under control.
But the message is that we cannot control all – and it is hubris to think we can. We think we can boast of our plans.
This does not mean that we shouldn’t plan – but that we should leave space for God to work with us – or despite us.