Wednesday, May 29, 2013

God in the Midst of the Storm

Everything is grace. St. Therese is famous for saying this, and I have reflected upon it previously. When we're deep in anguish, however, things can seem very obscure. We may feel angry with God, and we have to open up that anger so that it can become a cry for help, and a reaffirmation of hope that is real even if its desperate or rough and clumsy and full of pain.

Hope. Some people find a voice for their pain in places in Scripture, like the Psalms of lament (such as Psalms 13, 39, 42, 57, 70, 77, 139, 142). Its only reasonable to seek medicine for our souls, and we will often find help. We can draw deep courage from the Church: the Scriptures, the liturgy, the sacraments, the testimony of Christian witnesses, the charity and solidarity of our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Church is a home with many rooms for the weary.

Still, we should not be frustrated even when there seems to be no place for us, when nothing consoles us and we feel pushed into isolation. Sometimes our own suffering can only be endured as a secret prayer with words too deep for our understanding. We can only be with Jesus in these times, and this is enough. What we must not do, however, is choose to turn away from God and into self-seclusion. Hang on to Jesus and don't let go!

There are times when a simple reflection on God's goodness is what we need. The simple wisdom that we may have so often heard before can suddenly become a great light in the darkness.

I do believe that if we understood the mystery of our lives, we would see that everything really is "grace." Everything is enfolded in the Father's loving plan for each one of us. If God allows something bad to happen to us, He permits it because He wants to bring a greater good out of it; He wants to lead us through these struggles to a deeper and more mature life.

And this is important: He always gives us the strength to live it, to endure it, to grow through it. God doesn't always give us things that feel good, but He always gives us what we really need. That includes the grace that enables us to ask Him for help, to recognize that we need Him and are totally dependent on Him.

We don't ultimately know ourselves, or the mystery of the whole person God wills each of us to become. And when bad things happen, God doesn't usually show us (at least, not at the time) the purpose of these events in our journey to our destiny. We have to trust Him.

Trust is a decision; it is a position of the heart in the midst of the storm. It does not depend on how we feel, and it may not make us feel any better. It usually doesn't make the bad circumstance disappear. But trust makes our hearts grow. We must trust God (I often tell people) even if we can only do it through gritted teeth.

Years later, we can sometimes catch a reflection from the light of this mysterious growth. As we get older and look back on life, we can say, "I'm so grateful for that whole experience. I wouldn't be the person I am today if all of that had not happened." Such memories encourage us to continue to trust.

Always we return to the same theme: Trust. Trust in Jesus. Lord Jesus, give me the grace to trust in You. Make this trust the foundation and the shape of my heart, the position of my heart in the midst of every storm.