For several years, I volunteered at my parish’s Vacation Bible School. At the time, the parish was doing a program that featured many stories from the Old Testament. Some of the stories were quite thrilling and the children were captivated by tales of the Israelites escaping Egypt.
As an adult, I listened to the stories and felt so sorry for the ancient Israelites because they just didn’t seem to learn! They were told they were going to the Promised Land, they panicked at any sign of trouble, they turned away from God, they repented, God rescued them from danger, eventually, they were lured by something and turned away from God. At that point, disaster ensued and through their repentance, they once again were rescued by God and the cycle began again!
It seemed all too obvious in those condensed pages which encapsulated an incredibly long history. I recall pridefully thinking, “Why do they keep making these same mistakes, over and over? Why don’t they realize that by sticking with God, everything is going to work out?”
As I said, pride.
A couple of years later, my family faced a series of challenges. None of them were life-or-death, but they were challenges that I found myself praying fervently over. If a small hurdle disappeared I would thank God and immediately start worrying about the next hurdle. Time and time again, God’s help appeared just when I needed it to. It may not have always come in the way I was hoping but still, hurdles were being overcome and we were moving forward. Finally, one day it hit me! I am the ancient Israelites!
No, I wasn’t worshipping idols in the desert, but I was focusing my soul on worry over the future instead of on God’s love right in front of me. I wasn’t trusting Him to handle things. I would gratefully accept His assistance on one issue and immediately return to relying on my own plans for the remainder of the problem. Thankfully, our merciful Lord didn’t send a plague to get my attention; instead, He lovingly nudged me with reminders of His goodness and faithfulness. Sometimes, the reminder would be in the form of a daily reading or even a post on social media encouraging me to trust. I needed to learn the same lesson that the ancient Israelites had to learn: stick with God and everything is going to work out.
When something goes terribly wrong, it’s human to have an immediate, negative reaction. Trusting in God doesn’t mean we won’t be upset or distraught when life throws us a curve ball. It simply means that when we stop and think about moving forward, we do so with the faith that God has already got the problem handled. All we really have to do is seek His will and follow His lead.
It’s the same concept of thanking God in advance, that Blessed Solanus Casey suggests. God has plans to take care of every challenge we experience in life. It doesn’t mean we will always like His plan and it doesn’t mean that we won’t experience profound sadness at times. Faith means that we know that whatever happens, God is right there with us and will use what we’re going through for something good.
My ability to trust God has improved over the years but frequently, I am still exactly like the ancient Israelites. I panic and try to rely on my plans. Then I remember that the God who created the entire universe is more than capable of handling my dilemma and I repent and he helps me. As I pray to break this cycle of failure and repentance, I take comfort in knowing that God has been dealing with people like me since the beginning of time! He waits patiently for all of us to figure it out.
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