Jake was the kind of person who got totally frustrated if things did not work out as planned. Needless to say, he was not an easy going person. He wished that he was, but often he just couldn’t help himself. And whenever problems would come his way, he’d have a hard time staying calm and trying to control his negative thinking. This negative thinking would lead him to becoming fearful of the future, or have regret from the past.
One day, he was talking to a friend about how stressed he was over a new personnel problem that had arisen at work. His friend, who was also a kind of spiritual advisor for him, said, “You’re all upset before you have even done anything. Try to detach yourself from being fearful of what’s going to happen because this is ultimately in God’s hands and He’s going to work it out! Stop thinking the worst and trying to predict the future!”
One of the last books that Thomas Merton wrote is called, The Climate of Monastic Prayer (1968). Although this book is obviously written for monks, there’s a lot here that can be of help to “the rest of us”. Here’s the opening sentence of the book: “The climate in which (monastic) prayer flowers is that of the desert, where the comfort of man is absent, where the secure routines of man’s city offer no support, and where prayer must be sustained by God in purity of faith….ALLELUIA is the song of the desert.
In other words, prayer flourishes when there is nothing else to rely on. Merton is saying we have to learn to rely of God’s power through the good and bad times of life. It’s hard to say Alleluia in the heat and stress and struggle of the desert. But that’s why we need to have faith in our life. To me, there’s no other way to get through this journey here on earth.
What does Jesus say in his prayer to his Father? “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” So, we are in the world, and because of that, no matter what state of life you find yourself life will present you with problems. That’s just the way it is in this world. A life free of problems is for the next life. So, with this in mind, I share with you something that many people think is not realistic—even naive, but something I know from experience to be true: The God that gave you the gift of faith is right there beside you, and if you trust Him, all will be well. Don’t take matters into your own hands or allow the evil one to terrorize you by your fears of the past or of the future.
At the same time, don’t tell God how to solve your problems. Let Him have His own time to deal with them. Put yourself and the problem in his hands and then live one day at a time. Learn to trust in God. Someday things will work out, and it will always be in a way that you don’t expect. Remember, God can bring good out of evil, so hold on and make use of the gift of faith that you have received.
All of the Apostles eventually learned that before they set out on a course of action they needed to pray and listen and then follow. We are encouraged to learn this too. Better this way, then stressing out and becoming fearful. “Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God.”
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So beautifully said, Monsignor Matz. I have learned to deny myself of my fears which only separates me from Receiving God’s graces, but with much intension of courage and perseverance, I trust in God with all my heart. My prayer is always, “Jesus and Mary, I commend to you my Spirit!”