My favorite two passages in one of my favorite books, The Hobbit.
The first is as Bilbo Baggins goes down the tunnel in the Lonely Mountain, approaching the dragon Smaug.
It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait. (p. 193)The second is at the end of the story, when Balin and Gandalf come and visit Bilbo. Bilbo remarks that the prophecies appear to be coming true.
“Of course!” said Gandalf. “And why should they not prove true? Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!” (last page of book)I am reminded that there is a real battle, a real journey, a real Smaug, a real demise of Smaug, a real Home, a real prophecy, a real fulfillment of prophecy, a real role in that fulfillment. Real providence; real hope.