Grace to you!
Ada (not her real name) had been married for ten years. She loves kids and so does her husband. They wanted a child. Badly. Some complications in their health made conception almost impossible. Finally, God blessed them with a bouncing baby girl.
The girl was everything to them. They doted on her with love. She was always happy and active, lighting up Ada’s once cold and boring home with her pristine excitement.
One day, a call came from the girl’s headmaster. She fainted in school. Mom and dad were shocked, bewildered and anxious. The good news was she wasn’t dead. The bad news, after a series of diagnoses in the hospital, she had blood cancer and the result would be terminal.
Ada and her husband could not believe it. First was denial; then frustration, anxiety and the numerous “whys.” God received a fare share of the whys, the pediatrician a few, and the parents unsure of what they may have done wrong.
After the whys, came prolonged anxiety, then depression, and incremental loss of faith in God. Ada was a firm believer, but this case really shook her faith, as it would that of many in her situation.
Once I met a young man who was also diagnosed with cancer. “Father,” he said, “I don’t know if I have faith any more.” My reply “You wouldn’t know how strong your faith is until you’ve received the kind of news you just did.” His reply was honest, “I still believe, but I am confused.”
You truly may not know how deep your faith is until you are faced with a huge challenge and suffering. Call it a test of faith. Only then would you really understand the greatness of God and how far you have journeyed with God. Faith has a way of keeping us on track in the thick of the night, when the road is very dark.
Faith is a beautiful thing. It is also confusing, especially in the face of situations beyond our control. One of our joys and confidences is the ability to manage our affairs. Being in control is our delight.
Unfortunately, many things that happen to us prove that we can’t be in control of everything. Faith is a big part of resignation, helping us to handle with a sense of Godly confidence, events in our lives we don’t have control over.
The story of Martha in the bible (John 11:19-27) depicts the picture of the frustrations of the news of events we can’t control, things that make us really frustrated. Lazarus’s death was one of those.
Martha’s faith in Jesus is unquestionable. Her love is as clear as daylight. The sickness and eventual death of Lazarus, her brother and Jesus’s friend, becomes a cloud over her faith. If Lazarus was Jesus’s friend and if Jesus really cared about her family, why delay, why show up three days after a close friend was buried? Why? Why?
Martha couldn’t hide her frustrations, as we can’t hide ours when certain things happen. “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died” (John 11:21) as Martha said, resonates with many of us. It resonates with Ada in my opening story. Probably, it relates to you too at those moments when God seems dead.
Faith in turbulent times is a journey. You would be able to smile again despite the bad news if you cast all the “whys” to Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. Scripture says, “Cast all your burdens unto him because he cares about you” (I Peter 5:7; Psalm 55:22).
A more trusting, confident faith assures that God is with you even in the thickest of the night. God lifts you on eagle’s wings, mirroring the power over the worst human fear. The raising of Lazarus from the dead is a proof.
I pray for you, especially today, if you are walking through the dark valleys of life. Keep faith. Keep God.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Friday, July 29, 2016, Ordinary Time: Jeremiah 26:1-9; John 11:19-27]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.