Romans 12:12 (NIV)
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
I’m not feeling any spiritual creativity this week, so I’m going to share instead an excerpt from one of the very gifted Guest Authors in my book, The Afflicted Healer. This guest author is my very own pastor at St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic church.
Fr. Shayne Duvall entitled the chapter he wrote as, Rejoice in Hope, Endure in Affliction, Persevere in Prayer. He writes…
I think we must ask the question: are we optimistic about life, or are we pessimistic? Do we first see the good in others or are we constantly searching for the bad? Do we trust one another so that we can share our joys, our trials, and our experiences with them? Do we find opportunities every day to simply rejoice – to laugh, to smile, to love, and to forgive? Hope is powerful, especially when we stop to give thanks for reasons to hope. A person of hope can take the good with the bad. They can see that this trial or this struggle will soon pass and something good or better is right around the corner. A person who lacks hope will tend to be a miserable person. What is there to be excited about? What is there to look forward to? Why do I need to engage with others? Why do I need to care? Because that is why we were created. God created us in His image and likeness, and God does not make mistakes. Just look at the beauty of creation. The sunrises, the sunsets, the changing of the colors of the leaves, the warm sun, the cool winter breeze. Each day is an opportunity for us to be a person of hope, a person who rejoices in the cards that we are dealt, whether they are good or bad, they are ours and they show us that rejoicing in hope will pave the way for an attitude of joy, love, happiness, and excitement. My friends rejoice and be glad and then share that good news with others.
What does Fr. Shayne say about Enduring in Affliction? I made sure I paided close attention to this counsel!
What does it mean to endure something? People will often tell me that they are not really sure how much more they can handle. One more hurtful or painful experience will soon push them over the edge. I try my best to assure them, because I have been there myself, to sit with the pain, to sit with the suffering, and place yourself at the foot of the cross. Now, look up! What do you see? You hopefully see Christ looking down at you. As drops of blood and sweat fall from his face, you see a man who was beaten and torn up, a man who was put to death to set each and every one of us free. You see a man who loves us so much that he died for us. In order to have the Resurrection you first had to have the Crucifixion. When we are experiencing pain, sadness, depression, and despair, we have to trust that the pain will either pass or subside and that a new opportunity is on the horizon. Suffering happens to people who are rich and who are poor. Suffering happens to people who are public figures and hidden ones too. Suffering has no bias towards sex, age, or race. We cannot avoid it. It is what we do with suffering which makes all the difference in the world, especially if we strive to be people of hope. Enduring affliction is very painful, and we cannot do it alone. God did not create us to be alone, He created us to be in communion with one another. Don’t try and fight these battles, these sufferings alone. Talk to someone who has been there before. Be open, be honest, be vulnerable and let others help you. I have always struggled with that. I think that I can solve all my problems by myself. I don’t want to burden anyone else with my problems, and then I quickly realized that people want to be helpful, people actually do care, and they want to make sure they can help in any way possible. Let them help you. Let them help carry whatever crosses you bear, either daily, or just for a moment. Remember, sometimes we have to experience pain, loss, suffering, and afflictions, in order to be changed for the better. Hope allows us to see that something greater is happening and that we will be ok, as long as we take it one day at a time. One of the greatest ways we can get through these difficult times is to take it all to prayer-to speak to God about our joys and our sufferings, and to let Him help us get through it all.
Then we can all persevere in our praying….knowing we can trust God’s timing…which can be different indeed from the timetable we have set!
You can purchase my book, The Afflicted Healer, to read more of Fr. Shayne’s counsel on Hope and Enduring Affliction. It’s available through mvarga.com or Amazon.com.
Fill our lives with people like Fr. Shayne, who lead us to see how God is working in our personal circumstances. Help us to also be witnesses for You by how we manage our own affairs…& especially, how we encourage others as they try to look after their own.
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