|"Do not be afraid; I am with you always." Rembrandt's Storm at Sea|
Paul, in his letter to the Christian community at Corinth speaks about our future. Jesus Christ, once crucified, is now alive. And just as God transfigured the earthly Jesus into a new kind of spiritual embodiment, so too will God transfigure us in a life beyond this earthly life.
In the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus tells us of blessings and woes. Blessed are they who acknowledge with gratitude their total dependency upon God; who seek God in their daily lives; who endure hardships for the sake of Christ. Rejoice! The kingdom of heaven will be theirs. And then the woes? Woe to those who have "so much" and yet do nothing for the needy, the hungry, the sick and dying.
It’s not always easy to trust in God's unconditional love for us, especially when what's happening to us is the opposite of what we want to happen. Sometimes our prayers are answered. Other times, you and I may pray and find silence. We may even feel like giving up on God; or thinking negatively about ourselves.
I invite us not to get “bogged down” in negative feelings but to rise above them by reflecting on certain faith themes:
1. Let’s re-examine our image of God. Some think of God as a judge. Maybe we copy that sometimes. However, the bible, holding the religious experiences of so many, offers a collage. God is depicted as a walking companion in Genesis. A debater in Job. An anxious parent and a comforting mother in Isaiah. A father of a prodigal son in the Gospels. What is our image? God is our ever-faithful companion.
2. Remember God’s providence. Like a skilled pickpocket, God is present to us in many ways and we don’t always know it, except by evidence afterward. He may seem absent, but our faith says he’s in our midst.
3. Be angry but don’t stay angry. Yes, to demand an answer is to take God seriously, to acknowledge God’s care. But we ultimately have to let go of our anger and move forward; otherwise anger will poison our relationships.
4. Know that you are in good company. Even prophets and saints have argued with God. The point is this: keep praying. God is the best solution. God’s ultimate purpose is to satisfy our deepest needs.
The great 16th century Spanish mystic Teresa of Avila, gives this perspective:
Let nothing disturb you;
Let nothing dismay you;
all things pass;
God never changes;
they who have God find they lack nothing:
God alone suffices for us.