I recently attended a Zoom meeting with leaders from my parish women’s group. I expected the gathering to be an uneventful planning session and was only half paying attention when one of the participants knocked me out of my seat with her unexpected positive attitude in the midst of a painful health situation.
Like most of you, I’ve discovered that it’s a lot easier to have faith when life is carefree and fun. It is much more difficult to remain steadfast and positive when suffering, trial or illness unexpectedly knock on your door. It can be a quandary – how do you grow in faith, enduring the hard times in life, without becoming bitter? My friend from the women’s group recently showed me the way.
“I’m good today. I’m in a good week, so life is joyful. Since I’ll be getting these treatments forever, I try to look at things from a positive perspective each day. Next week, I won’t feel so great because of the Monday chemo treatment but after awhile, I’ll be good again.”
As my friend finished sharing her latest cancer update, I noticed that the light behind her silhouette became a bit brighter on the computer screen. It could have been her radiant smile or perhaps the way she spoke with confidence about such a difficult subject – but whatever the reason, her whole person shone like the beauty of a rising sun over a calm sea. “Is this what real faith looks like?” I wondered in the silence of my heart.
For me, the words of my wise friend were a beautiful reminder that faith doesn’t just happen – it takes time to grow and flourish like a bountiful garden. My friend has tended to her garden over many years. She’s prayed, read scripture, participated in various faith enrichment groups and always challenged herself to grow deeper in understanding the gift of Catholicism. But it hasn’t been without toil. Her faith has been tested and tried over many years and through various struggles. But she never stopped asking questions, never stopped meeting Jesus in weekly Mass – and always kept listening for the voice of her Beloved in the quiet of her soul. Her faith has slowly matured through painstaking daily efforts to surrender her will for that of the Father’s will and it reveals something beautiful about her, and in common with St. Paul who said, “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)
My friend’s life of ongoing faith development has made her better in every sense of the word. Bitter is left to those unwilling to embrace hope, love and the promises of Christ found in Sacred Scripture. (examples below) My friend’s relentless efforts are an encouragement to all of us who struggle to deepen our own faith in the midst of this difficult, tumultuous world. I truly believe that we become better when we learn to surrender everything to the One who knows us best and loves us most. In this apparent act of weakness, we actually grow stronger thanks to the gift of God’s grace. This abandonment of control and willingness to trust in God allows us to live happier, more fulfilled lives. Perhaps we can all strive to be just a little bit better today. Over time it sure does make a difference.
Scripture Passages which Encourage my Faith
|God will never leave you||Deuteronomy 31:6||“Be strong and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the LORD, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you.”|
|God will always protect you||2 Thessalonians 3:3||“But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.”|
|God will give you the graces necessary to endure all suffering||2 Corinthians 12:9||“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”|