Recently I was talking with a friend who seemed to have the weight of the world on her shoulders. She looked so stressed that if I touched her shoulder, I thought she might just break right in half. “I feel as though God is punishing me – that I’ve done something wrong somehow,” she said. She was referring to a steady stream of difficult trials that have recently been occurring in her life and with her family. I felt so sorry for her. I assured here that God was not punishing her for some past sin – that He loved her. When bad things happen to really good people, we are often at a loss to make sense of things.
I was having a discussion with my wise mother this evening. She always listens and seems to have the right words to ease my stress somehow. I have been experiencing an extra dose of trials lately myself- not as severe as my friend, but still tough. For months, I’ve suspected that the devil has been trying to discourage me from living my faith & from sharing my faith with others. I believe that he is trying to stop me by making life extra difficult for me and for those I love – cranking up the stresses a few notches! Last night I had a dream that I was looking at a beautiful picture of Jesus and feeling a wonderful peace. Suddenly Jesus’ face morphed into Satan’s face, and I was frightened – so much so that I woke from sleep. “Buzz off,” I told the devil, “You are not welcomed here! In Jesus’ name get away from me.” I fell back to sleep.
If you are struggling with an overload of trials and sufferings, take heart! Don’t be tempted to think that it is God’s wrath. The harder we try to live and to share the gospel, the more the devil will do try to stop us. We are a threat to him and to his agenda. Stay strong. Persevere. Praise God in the peaks and in the valleys. Ask Jesus to help you to carry your great crosses. He will not abandon you. He has promised us this in scripture! He will not let Satan prevail over those who love Him. He may be (not causing but) allowing this difficult time to strengthen your faith and trust in Him. He will lessen the stress in His time, and in the mean time, He will give you grace to make it through another day.
Grace is strength for the moment. It cannot be stored up in advance for something that may/may not happen. If you call out to God for strength, He will supply what you need to get through – one moment at a time. When I’m dangling from the end of my rope, overwhelmed with stress, I love to read St. Theresa of Avila’s prayer repeatedly until the words really sink in:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.
All things are passing. Even if our suffering lasts a lifetime, our lifetime is but a second, being that our soul will live on forever. We can’t even comprehend “forever.” That (sort of) puts things in perspective, even if it does not make things easier. As my mother-in-law always says, “The first 100 years are the hardest!” I think she’s right!
Lord Jesus, give us the grace to get through this difficult time. Help us to persevere in this test of faith. Help us to trust You more. Keep the devil far from us and our loved ones. Put a protective “bubble” around my family. As soon as it be your most holy will, please lift this burden from our shoulders. In the meantime, help us to carry our crosses, out of love for You. We offer our suffering for the glory of Your name and for the salvation of souls. Amen.