An older woman sits in her living room alone and in tears. Even though her husband died four years ago, she still gets overwhelmed by waves of depression. Her children are all married, but only one still lives in the immediate area. They try to help their mother, but they just don’t understand how lonely she feels. There are days when this woman wished that she had been the one to “go” first.
A man in his early forties has just been told by his wife that she wants a divorce. He could sense that there had been a lot of tension in the past few months and that she seemed to be out a great deal. But he never thought that things were heading in this direction. It’s the worst thing that has happened in his entire life! He has no idea how he will get through it, and he is angry at the world.
A man in his mid 60’s is called by his doctor and told that they didn’t like the results of his recent chest X-ray. There is a spot on his lung, could he please come in for further consultation.
The scenarios can go on and on. But the common thread in each of these stories is that these people are faced with something that has upset the course of their lives. Yet, they are the kinds of things that happen to people. But the common thread is that each person is overwhelmed by the present moment (the present situation), and they don’t know what to do. They are also afraid of what lies ahead.
I think we can all identify with these kinds of circumstances. They’ve happened to us or to those we know and love. And there are a lot of emotions that surround things like this.
That’s why I love the passage from Romans 8:
Brothers and sisters: We know that all things work for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
All things work for good.
Yet, the people in the stories are probably not thinking at that moment that any good could possibly come from what they are experiencing and feeling.
In time of crisis, the best thing you can do is turn to Christ. Maybe for some, they have tried everything else and they figure, “let me give Jesus a try”. And they eventually find that it’s the best thing they ever did. It’s the thing that saved them, or at least held them together.
There are times when we panic when faced with a challenge. Yet, sometimes those challenges can actually be the “birth pangs of a new beginning, a new birth, a new direction.” Maybe—-just maybe——they might even be blessings in disguise. And the more we open ourselves to Christ, the more we see the pattern of how God works in our life through His Son, Jesus: from suffering to salvation, from cross to resurrection, from humiliation to exaltation.
What we are asked to do when we are faced with a challenge is “go with God”, and live with unanswered questions for the time being.
Here are words of wisdom from a great Jesuit thinker that might help us understand what “going with God”, and, at the same time, being at peace within ourselves, really means:
Trust in the slow work of God. We are, quite naturally, impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new, and yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—-and that it may take a very long time.
Your ideas mature gradually—-let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time and grace and circumstances will make them tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that His hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.