|Unspash: Andre i4|
I believe that everything works together for the good of those whose hearts are centered in love. In dark times of suffering and struggle there is a light that endures within our souls that guides us toward strength to endure. All things work together unto good for those who love God. See Romans 8:28 (Inclusive New Testament)
I was deeply touched as I read the story of Corrie Ten Boom's memories of the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps in World War II. The legacy of faith that she recounts can be summed up in her insight that there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still. When I am faced with what appears to be major obstacles in my life, these words flash across my mind and I hear the message of hope that Paul speaks about in his letter to the Romans.
I remember one such occasion, when my dad became ill with a disease that the doctors told us could be fatal. At the time I was teaching in Philadelphia, a three-hour trip from home. On week ends I would take the train to visit Dad in the hospital, where he lay hooked up to every machine imaginable, my mother keeping vigil at his bedside. There was little I could do but be present and hold Dad's hand.
As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned to months, I grew weary. One night I knelt by my bed and cried out, "Why, God?" Then in my heart, I "heard" a voice say, "Do you not know that I love your dad far more than you do, that I will take perfect care of him?" At last I was able to let go of the burden I was carrying and trust that God, no matter what, held Dad in the arms of Divine Love. Several weeks later, Dad recovered.
We all have such experiences in life. Something we consider bad or threatening happens to us or our families, and we grow fearful; we suffer; we endure. Then, when we pray, "God give us strength," the situation seems touched by God. We become aware that we are in the shadow of God's love and whatever happens is a gift from God. On these occasions we see life as it really is, full of mystery and full of grace. Ultimately, as the fourteenth-century English mystic, Julian of Norwich, said: "All shall be well."
Reflect on how God has helped you in difficult circumstances, such as matters of life and death. What good did you find in these situations? Offer a prayer of thanksgiving.
As you go about your day, notice what comes as a gift from God. Before you retire, make a mental list or note in your prayer journal all God's gifts to you throughout the day.
Pray for the "difficult people" that you find challenging to love. Do one act of kindness today for one of these people.
Compose your own psalm for a hurting heart, sharing your feelings of pain and trusting in God, or pray the following:
God, I am at the end of my rope. My friends don't understand, my family is far away, I am alone and lonely, I feel like I'm dying. Where can I turn? Be with me. Cry with me. Hold me close. Love me into hope. Please, I am desperate. I need to rest in the shadow of your love.
Reflect on the people and experiences that have helped you grow in trust with God. Be aware of how the Spirit is working through you at the present time to see yourself and the people in your family,
job and community in new ways. Can it be that it is through the circumstances of your life that God is weaving an amazing tapestry of grace?
Select one word or image that describes your experience of endurance. Pray that word over and over, allowing it to open you to a deeper trust in God- even in difficult circumstances.
Make this your prayer today:
I love you, Holy One, my strength, my comfort,
my companion in hard times on life's journey. In your presence may I find
patience to deal with life's frustrations,
forgiveness for those who hurt me,
compassion for those who also carry heavy burdens, hope to enlighten me,
and wisdom to follow your path that leads to wholeness.
(This meditation was published in A Promise of Presence by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina Madonna Oliver)