“I believed when I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted,’"(Psalm 116:10).
One of the most profound and perhaps also deflating realizations of life is that we are all inevitably alone on this earth. If we have friends and family by our side then we are amongst the lucky ones. However, when it comes down to it, we are alone in getting through our struggles, not even the world can help if we are not willing to do the work ourselves. Naively thinking we do not need to take any actions and all will be well, only leaves us stranded in that struggle forever. Many Christians think that because they believe in God, that somehow He will magically take it all away if they are good. Unfortunately, life and God doesn’t work that way. Yes, God will guide us and direct us, perhaps even clear our path to make it easier for us, but the first and last steps are still our responsibility alone. God only intervenes when we first make the initiative. Realizing such a truth, we humans become fearful of challenges. We are afraid of being weak because that is when we are most vulnerable, and the fear is that we will not overcome our challenge and be forced to live in misery forever.
Have these thoughts ever passed through your mind? It certainly has for me almost every time I am faced with a struggle. Like most people, I can get myself so wrapped up in my own drama that I forget some key things, that is: 1) God always has my best intentions in mind, 2) He is always watching over me and 3) He will never permit anything to come that I cannot handle. In fact, in all our troubles exist the opportunity for growth. But how do we rise above our troubles and what will give us that growth? The answer is the grace of the Holy Spirit coming over us. If we choose it and remember to ask for the Lord’s guidance in the mists of our troubles, His grace is certain to give us the wisdom and strength we need to endure and grow through our problems. For grace does not connect with our strength or our virtue, but only with our weakness. What great news that is! For this it means no matter whom we are, or what we have done, or whatever other elements that define us, when we are weak, if we ask for it God’s mercy His grace is always given. At times, this is the very reason why it seems like God is not answering our cries. It is because He knows that we need the opportunity for growth so that we may face what is to come next in life. Such an understanding can help us to feel not so alone or vulnerable through our struggles. In fact, it is just the opposite. Our struggles can be our blessings because not only is it an opportunity for inner growth, both mentally and spiritually, but it is also an opportunity for us to show God our love and our trust in Him.
Our God doesn’t want us to be His puppets, constantly depending on Him for every action. He wants us to be independent and free, to live, to be and to choose our direction. But we are mortals, with limited strength and limited wisdom. If we did not have the grace of God rained upon us, we simply would not survive. At times we need to experience and recognize where and how the omnipotence of God best comes into its own. This is how we will be able to achieve the peace of heart and mind that we all so desperately desire to have through the span of our lives.
With the possibility of such rewards would we really wish it to be any other way? My answer is, No. Such experiences can only build my self esteem, my individuality, my strength, and my overall growth because the mind is connected to the body. I am moved and over joy that our God loves me and respects my existence enough to permit such opportunities for me. There are many Biblical proofs as to how and why our weakness can bring us strength. St. Paul’s life is one of many perfect examples and this is shown through the entire Book of Acts. We can only know the limits of our strength, both high and low, just as we are only able to be strong enough when our weakness has been demonstrated with perfect clarity. But the choice is ours, we can choose to avoid challenges and remain as we were born with no intellectual or psychological growth, or we can blame God, family, friends, society etc. and remain miserable, or we can choose to welcome our trials as opportunities to become the person we want to be and to show God our love, faith, and devotion. Make your choice.