|Christus Pantocrator or Christ the All Powerful|
The word of God takes us back to a prophet known as Second Isaiah, in the 6th century before Jesus. The author is fascinated with the awe and wonder and grandeur of this universe. And he proclaims that, just as the spring rains and winter snows bring forth new life on the ground, so too does the word of God bring forth goodness. God’s word is life-giving and will ultimately achieve what God has set out to do despite the hindrances we place before the word.
Paul urges the Christian community in the Rome of the 60s, undergoing all kinds of hardships, to stay the course and not lose their confidence in God. Paul goes on to say: just as a mother in her labor brings forth a beautiful child, so God ultimately will reveal his glory and splendor and grandeur, despite the natural disasters and human tragedies we encounter daily. Paul challenges us to remember that we are destined for glory: good ultimately will triumph over evil.
In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus speaks to us in a parable. The sower is God. Notice how generous God is. He spreads his goodness everywhere. The seed is the word of God. The different kinds of soil are different people. Some people are like “rocky ground, others “thorny” ground, still others “good soil”: they hear God's word and just do it.
In light of Paul's advice to the community at Rome, we might ask how do we cope with the challenges of life? Life is a set of challenges, problems and hassles. We sometimes imagine that if we could just deal with the immediate challenge that we're facing, all our problems would be over. But life is not like that. If we resolve one problem, others are just around the corner.
The temptation is to see this as preventing us from doing the right thing. Not so! The Bible is true to life. Look at what so many people today face around the world, e. g., Syria and Iraq, South Sudan and the Congo.
How cope with challenges? First, talk to God as you would a friend. Whatever situations we may face, bring them to God in prayer.
Second, trust that God is in control. “Faith,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “is the art of holding on to things.... once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.” Yes, it's hard to trust when everything seems to be going wrong. But think about St. Paul, who wrote, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28) Paul's imprisonment resulted in him being sent to Rome to preach the gospel, precisely what he wanted to do in the first place.. Vast numbers of innocent people, undergoing hardships, have been inspired by Paul's story. You and I may never know how God uses our faithfulness to achieve his purposes.
Third, take every opportunity that God gives us to never give up on doing the right thing. Whatever challenges, keep praying, keep trusting, keep looking for opportunities to serve God!