We all undergo difficult moments in our lives. These are moments when, practically, we do not know where to go. The road becomes misty. The fog of uncertainty starts mushrooming from different ways and manners.
We cry out to the Lord for help. Our frustration and pain can cause us to pray Psalm 88 to God, Our Creator and Saviour. With the psalmist we say to the Lord:
O LORD, my God, I call for help by day; I cry out in the night before thee. Let my prayer come before thee, incline thy ear to my cry! For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol. I am reckoned among those who go down to the Pit; I am a man who has no strength, like one forsaken among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom thou dost remember no more, for they are cut off from thy hand.
Thou hast put me in the depths of the Pit, in the regions dark and deep. Thy wrath lies heavy upon me, and thou dost overwhelm me with all thy waves. Thou hast caused my companions to shun me; thou hast made me a thing of horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape; my eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call upon thee, O LORD; I spread out my hands to thee. Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise thee?
Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon? Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness? But I, O LORD, cry to thee; in the morning my prayer comes before thee. O LORD, why dost thou cast me off? Why dost thou hide thy face from me? Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer thy terrors; I am helpless. Thy wrath has swept over me; thy dread assaults destroy me. They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in upon me together. Thou hast caused lover and friend to shun me my companions are in darkness.
Such a prayer beautifully drives home what a dear friend and a sister always teaches me: Relying on the Lord does not protect us from storms, but rather gives us stability and victory.
But how can relying on God bring us stability and victory?
In our discussion the Holy Spirit taught me that relying on God brings stability in victory as well as victory in stability. Relying on the Lord brings us stability in victory because God has a maternal love towards each and every one of us. In his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit, Pope Francis, when speaking about God who is love, beautifully writes: At other times, he speaks of himself as filled with the love of a mother whose visceral love for her children makes it impossible for her to neglect or abandon them: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (Is 49:15), (no.113). In other words, God’s love gives us the stability of a mother who loves her child and protects him or her.
On the other hand, relying on God gives us victory. During our life storms we are tempted to flee and protect ourselves as the prophet Jonah did. But our victory is if we let the Lord do things in his own way in our lives. It is there that we really see Him at work.
In his apostolic exhortation on the call to Holiness in today’s world, Guadete et Exsultate Pope Francis explains this dynamism in the following way: Like the prophet Jonah, we are constantly tempted to flee to a safe haven. It can have many names: individualism, spiritualism, living in a little world, addiction, intransigence, the rejection of new ideas and approaches, dogmatism, nostalgia, pessimism, hiding behind rules and regulations. We can resist leaving behind a familiar and easy way of doing things. Yet the challenges involved can be like the storm, the whale, the worm that dried the gourd plant, or the wind and sun that burned Jonah’s head. For us, as for him, they can serve to bring us back to the God of tenderness, who invites us to set out ever anew on our journey (no. 134).
And when this happens to us revert back to Christ’s mission for each and every one of us. In times of trouble let us take to our heart what Pope Francis writes in Gaudete Et Exultate numbers 23 and 24:
You too need to see the entirety of your life as a mission. Try to do so by listening to God in prayer and recognizing the signs that he gives you. Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received. Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world. May you come to realize what that word is, the message of Jesus that God wants to speak to the world by your life. Let yourself be transformed. Let yourself be renewed by the Spirit, so that this can happen, lest you fail in your precious mission. The Lord will bring it to fulfilment despite your mistakes and missteps, provided that you do not abandon the path of love but remain ever open to his supernatural grace, which purifies and enlightens.
Lord, in times of trouble, remind me that for me the most important thing is to rely on you because only in you stability in victory and victory in stability are found. Your never ending love gives me the stability to keep saying YES to your will in my life. Hence, by doing your will you make me a victor with you on the waves whilst helping me persevere in your path of love, through my constant purification and enlightenment thanks to our supernatural grace and my cooperation to it. Amen.