Learning from the challenges in your life

Alan was in his early fifties. He was sitting the pew of his parish church waiting for Mass to begin. He was there with his wife and his two children. Just two years ago, you wouldn’t have seen him there. It’s only recently that Alan had returned to church. “How did I end up coming back to church?” he asked himself. And in trying to answer this question, Alan realized that God had been working very slowly with him through all the years of his life—gradually peeling away the layers of his resistance. Now Alan could see the pattern of how God works in a person’s life because he was a more thoughtful and reflective person. He had been through enough of life’s experiences to be able to actually learn from them.

As a teen, Alan had been pretty irresponsible. He had been through some foolish things and had made poor decisions. Some of the things he could laugh about now; others weren’t so funny looking back. He was glad that his parents didn’t know all the things that had happened, and he hoped that they would never find out. He would be very embarrassed if they did.

Alan realized that as a kid he thought he knew everything. That didn’t help at the time. But there was that basketball coach that really became a mentor to him, and Alan knew that if he had had a problem he could turn to him and talk things over. When Alan reflected on this part of his younger life, he realized now that having a person like that in his life was a sign that God was watching out for him.

In his twenties Alan faced tragedy. There was the swimming accident which ended in the death of his good friend. He learned grief. Saw Ron’s parents distraught, remembered the funeral as if it were yesterday. At that time Alan was rarely in church, but he did pray that his friend would be in heaven.

By the thirties, Alan was married. That certainly changed him. Having children changed his perspective. He was thinking of himself less. He remembered the birth of his first child, and thought that there must be a God.

When Alan saw what had happened at his work a few years ago, he saw how God was looking out for him. At first, he was jealous because he didn’t get the raise that others received. But when they were the very ones who were let go because they had the biggest salaries, he knew God had protected him. He also learned from that experience not to get caught up in “careerism”. There was more to life than just getting ahead.

And in recent years, there was that nagging quest for something more permanent and lasting. He found that “something permanent and lasting” in his faith and in Christ’s promises, which he began to feel more confident about.

Two men ask Jesus, “Where do you live?” And the response—“come and see”. Jesus was asking those men to join his team—to be a part of him. Alan eventually realized that God was asking the same thing of him. And so, the same for us. This isn’t just pious stuff. This is called seeing the hand of God in your life and starting to take things more seriously. Jesus is asking us to walk more closely with him and talk to him as a companion on the journey of life. Take some time to reflect on what has happened to you and how the Lord has helped you. Don’t dismiss this as your own doing or making. Christ is still revealing himself to you. Pay attention to him.

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