We often look at situations in terms of black and white. Either they make us happy or sad because of how we perceive the situation we find ourselves in.
When we find ourselves in hard and challenging times, we usually complain and lament. It is normal we do because we are focused on the painful and difficult, and sometimes, even the confusing and despairing. We find our spirits and energy waning. We struggle to remain positive and hopeful. In such moments, we usually want to give up and walk out of the situation to get away from it all.
For people of faith, we go to God and express our suffering and hurt, our disappointment and anger. ‘Are you there, God?’ ‘Why is this happening to me?’ ‘I am fed up with you, Lord.’ Sometimes, we will angrily shout out, ‘I don’t want to suffer anymore; take away this cross!’ All we want is for God to take away the pain. So why is God letting us go through hard times?
Fr Mark-Mary offers an answer to this question in his video entitled, “Why God Allows Us To Go Through Hard Times?”
For me, this is a good reflection on who God is, how God remains faithful to us, and why we matter to God when bad things happen to us. These are the main points he makes:
- We all have struggles, difficulties, and daily crosses. When we’re experiencing pain, it’s hard to understand why God allows us to go through hard times. One way to think of it is that God doesn’t want to coddle us. Rather, he wants to console and comfort us.
- Coddling someone means treating someone in an indulgent or overprotective way, and God won’t do that to us. God does not want to baby us as if we are incapable.
- We are not babies and incapable. We made in the image and likeness of God. We are resilient and capable. We have the capacity to heroic living and loving. We have the dignity to live heroically. This is why God calls us to follow him in his ways.
- God gives us free will to make our own decisions and mistakes. He does not leave us alone when things don’t go out way. God is with us to console and comfort us in our suffering, instead of coddling us through the difficult and hard times.
- Consoling means to enter into the loneliness or solitude of another so that they are no longer alone, and comforting means to give another strength. This is what God does for us. So when we go through hard times, we should know that we are not alone because God is with us. God keeps faith with us by entering into our suffering. This is how God makes us stronger.
- God can do this because God is with us. He is present with us in our difficulties. He comforts us. To comfort is to strengthen.
- God does this by giving us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit enters into our lives and is therefore with us through the difficult, painful, and hard. The Spirit is the life of God within us. This is why God can empower us to get through such challenging times. In this way, God helps us to grow up, become strong, and have the capacity to live heroically according to our dignity as God’s own.
- God loves us abundantly. God also knows us intimately; He knows our strengths and weaknesses. He doesn’t want to coddle us or overprotect us from difficulties. Instead, God enters into these trying realities we face to help us face them. This is how God strengthens us. Why? Because it matters to God that we live with dignity even in the midst of difficult and hard times.
- Yes, the struggle is real. But know that God is real too and, more importantly, God is with us. Yes, it is difficult to be chaste, to stay faithful in marriage, to forgive, to not gossip and so on; but with God besides us, we are strong. Yes, life can be difficult, but with God, it’s okay.
Yes, life can be difficult, but with God, it’s okay. Those are the final words Fr Mark-Mary repeats to give us hope and to encourage us to keep finding God when life isn’t going our way. Throughout this Circuit Breaker, you and I have had to struggle with many changes and challenges in our lives. At times, it may have seemed like bad things were happening to us. Yet, if we pause and look back, we might be surprised to find how faithful God is to us — always consoling and comforting us. Let us make this the focus of our prayer this week:
a) During this Circuit Breaker, what have been some of the hard times you have faced? How did you feel as you faced them? How did you respond to them?
b) Fr Mark-Mary shared that God doesn’t coddle us in difficult times. Instead, he consoles and comforts us by entering into our pain and suffering. Take a look back again on those hard times you’ve identified and reflect on how you experienced God’s care and concern for you in those times. When you are ready, have a conversation with God about those experiences. Begin by completing this sentence:
“O God, in those hard times, these are the ways I experienced your consolation and comfort…”
c) This Circuit Breaker may have been additionally challenging and difficult as a person with same-sex attraction. You might have struggled even more with loneliness because you could not connect with friends who usually support in person. Yet you got through each day. How did God help you through this time of being apart from your friends? What do you want to thank God for?
Words to Encourage
Let us keep silent and pray as often as we can to feel and know God’s faithful consolation and comfort; these strengthen us in times of pain and suffering because this is how God keeps faith with us.