In the midst of sufferings, all but the most God-trusting souls tend to ask two questions:1) Why this suffering, or at least why now, Lord?; 2) How long will this darkness last, Lord?
Typical of the first plaint are questions such as: Why are my prayers unavailing? Why do I have the spiritual "blahs"? Why am I assailed with such overwhelming temptations? Why can't the doctors do something for me or my sick loved ones? Why can't I find happiness in marriage? Why can't I find a job? Why is my life so unfulfilled? Why am I so depressed?
Typical of the second category of questions are such grievance queries as: When will this pain end? How long will I feel lonely? Will my son ever conquer his drug addiction? How long must I endure the misery of living with an unrecovered alcoholic spouse? Will I ever be able to get out of debt?
Look again at the remarks of the atheist who theorized about what his behavior would be if he were to come to have faith. "The griefs of life would occupy hardly a moment of my thoughts." Doesn't the contrast with our plaintive questions convict us of our faith-weakness in the face of suffering? Certainly these midnight events of life are real. Yet their positive potential is also real. If our suffering is not being fully utilized, if we are indulging in querulous questions, this aborts to some extent the grace proffered to us in our dark moments. How much grace we cheat ourselves of by our reluctance to embrace God's will!
God reprimanded Job because his complaints in his suffering were "words without knowledge," as Job himself admitted (see Job 38:.2; 42:3) The Lord asked him if he intended to let his unthinking questions lead him to deny God's loving providence. This is the temptation we face too. It is precisely in the midst of such darkness that our faith is most pointedly challenged. Just as storms deepen the root system of a windblown oak, the storms of adversity are designed to root us deeper in Our faith. Only an intrepid and stalwart Christ-focused faith that perdures through our dark storms will help us to accept Paul's assertion that for those who love God and fit into his plans, all such things "work together unto good” (Rom 8:28).
To let the Lord focus the spotlight of his loving providence on the dark moments of your life try this simple prayer of surrender:
Lord, you’ve got the whole world in your hands. And now, Lord, you’ve got my problems in your hands – my seemingly insoluble problems that I have been worrying over incessantly. They look like big problems to me, Lord, but nothing’s too big for you. If you can keep the earth spinning and keep the galaxies in place, if you can supervise all creation, I guess you can manage my problems. My task is to refrain from worrying now; I’ve just got to trust you, believe you, love you. Help me to let go – to surrender to your loving providence in my life. Don’t let me interfere with your solution to what were once my problems. They’re yours now, Lord – these unique, special problems. Take them, please, and solve them in your own way and in your own time. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
This excerpt is from the book The Art of Loving God by John H. Hampsch, C.M.F., originally published by Servant Publications, 1995. This and other of Fr. Hampsch's books and audio/visual materials can be purchased from Claretian Teaching Ministry, 20610 Manhattan Pl, #120, Torrance, CA 90501-1863. Phone 1-310-782-6408.