AS I was reading the Gospel of Luke, I was reminded once again that God works in mysterious and wondrous ways. But sometimes I can be so overwhelmed by the negative that I cannot see the miraculous work of God's creative and life-giving Hand. In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 13, Verses 1-4, Luke writes:
At that time, some people who were present
there told Jesus
WHAT an interesting and eye-opening biblical story. People are asking if the disaster of Southeast Asia is God's way of punishing these people. But the above verse makes it clear that bad things happen not because people are guilty, but because bad things just happen. Then am I saying that their suffering is God's fault? No, I am not. I am saying that God is continually creating, and the universe that He created is constantly changing; earthquakes and other natural disasters are signs that creation is not yet finished. The world is still undergoing change. New valleys and new mountains are being made. God is not finished with us or the world or the universe. God is active all the time! Such tragedies become opportunities for repentance on my part! Instead of asking WHY, I take the opportunity to change inwardly. Am I ready to meet my Lord and Savior face to face right now? That's why Jesus says in the story above that the victims of tragedies are not being punished (bad things just happen) but, by the way, are you ready to meet your Lord? Better get your act together and make God number one in your life because you never know what will happen in the next moment. But in the midst of these creative changes, bad things happen because sin has corrupted the perfect creation that God made at the beginning. God is not the cause of the bad things, sin and evil are. God did not create death, sin corrupted life and created death. Saint Paul writes in Romans, Chapter 5, Verses 12-14:
through one person sin entered the world, and through sin,
THE question then comes to my mind, why did this have to happen to all these people? Then I begin to think, why do bad things happen to me? Why, Lord, do you permit such suffering in my life and not hear my prayers? From the study of scriptures, I find that these are not the proper questions to ask because these questions, though quite human, focus not on God's Will but on my will, focus not on God's creative Hand but on my negative feelings. The WHY questions are quite selfish focusing only on me. Such negative attitudes in spirit affect also my prayers. That's why Saint Paul writes in Romans, Chapter 8, Verses 26-27:
In the same way, the Spirit too comes
to aid us in our weakness;
SO, we do not pray as we ought because we are not in touch with the intention of the God. So, the challenge is this: how can I pray as I ought and how can I be one with the intention (Will) of God? This is not an easy task. It takes time. Prayer time. Silent time. Since the Holy Spirit knows my heart and desires, I don't need to spend my entire prayer time asking and begging the Father in heaven to give me what I want. There is the problem: what I want! Prayer is the dialogue between God and me, a sharing of words, spirit and emotion. This is done in silence so that I can hear the stirrings of God's intention in my life. So, instead of asking WHY ME, I ask instead, Lord, how can I do your Will in this or that terrible situation? Instead of feeling sorry for myself and saying that God has abandoned me, I should be thankful for his many blessings and ask the Lord to help me to fulfill His intention in my life. Instead of focusing on the disaster, I ask the Lord what can I do to help and make His presence known in a terrible and tragic situation. Instead of trying in my incomplete and small way to "change" God's mind through my prayers and promises (bargaining with God as if I could), I am open to a changed situation in which I am not in control but God is. Instead of fighting against God, I decide to work with Him in my life. Paul refers to this in Romans, Chapter 9, Verse 16: So it depends not upon a person's will but upon God who shows mercy. Such faith attitude of total surrender to God's intention and Will gave Saint Paul the strength and conviction to say this in I Corinthians, Chapter 4, Verses 10-17:
We are fools on Christ's account, but you are wise in Christ;
NOW talking about being in tune with God's Will and intention! Saint Paul had great sufferings but he never allowed these terrible things to stop him and get him down. Instead, through his prayer dialog with God the Father, he focused on the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not on the negative. Saint Paul accomplished so much because he was not asking WHY ME but asking WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO NEXT.
WHAT are we to do now? In regards to the disaster in Southeast Asia, do not ask why, ask how can I help and make Christ's presence known in such pain according to my limited resources. In the disasters of my life, ask not why me, ask how I can make use of this painful situation into an opportunity to grow and mature in Christ. The Blessed Virgin Mary knew that she was to suffer much as she watched her Son, Jesus Christ, carry the sins of the world upon His shoulders. This was predicted in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, Verse 34-35:
Behold, this child is destined for
the fall and rise of many in Israel
NOTICE that the Blessed Virgin at no time said, WHY ME and LIFE IS UNFAIR. Instead, she praised God and said (Luke 1:46):
My soul proclaims the greatness of
the Lord, my spirit rejoices
AND again, we see Mary say (Luke 1:38):
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me
WHEN Mary, at the wedding feast of Cana, asked the Lord to help out with the lack of wine, Mary didn't bargain with Jesus. She simply said (John 2:5):
Do whatever He tells you.
OBVIOUSLY, the Blessed Virgin was intimately connected to the intention and Will of God. There was no complaining on her part, no bargaining. Just simple recognition that God's Will will be done no matter what.
THE lesson to be learned here is this: Stop focusing on ourslves. Focus on God. Instead of only seeing my desires and wants, see the big picture of God's creation and our part in it. The world and all creation does not revolve around us. I revolve around the intention of God. We all revolve around God as the center of our lives and universe. We are never alone. Besides God being with us, all humanity is at my side and I am at the side of all humanity. Every blessing and every suffering is an opportunity to share God's infinite mercy and goodness. The Spirit will intercede for us when we do not pray as we ought. So, instead of begging God to change a painful life situation, ask for guidance in what to do next and sit in the silence of prayer so that God can envelop you in His loving and merciful Arms. In the silence of that embrace, you will find the spiritual, emotional and physical strength to do the impossible!
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. In verdant pastures He gives me repose. Beside restful waters He leads me, He refreshes my soul."(Psalm 23)
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