No one likes to waste time…. or to waste pain and suffering… or to waste any kind of investment. I guess that’s why it’s frustrating to wait in line, whether in a traffic jam or on line at the movies or being put on HOLD waiting for the service rep to help you. We’ve all heard, “ thank you for waiting, your call is important to us, please stay on the line and we will be with you in just a moment”. That’s sounds pretty good the first time, but not after 10 times.
When we detect some progress, we can take a deep breath … hey, this suffering will be over soon and all will be well. But what about when we don’t see any progress or any good coming out of our suffering…. what about those times? Well, I think we can agree that this can be demoralizing, depressing, frustrating…. choose your own word. In the spiritual realm, the stakes are even higher. What if we don’t seem to see any progress in the frustrations and suffering in our spiritual life?
Well, I think this is where we really need to place our trust in the “divine physician”… in our Lord. What if we are seriously sick and have prayed to recover …. to be healed? What if we have prayed for a loved one who is away from the Lord? What if we need a better job to provide for our family? What if we have earnestly prayed and sought freedom from nagging sin that “still clings too closely” (Heb. 12:1)…maybe even an addiction that seems to resist all efforts to vanquish ? Wow, what is going on with all of this…. where is the Lord? Why isn’t God hearing our sincere and persistent prayer?
Even St. Paul wrestled with this situation …. “ a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2Cor. 12:6-9)
In reality all of this helps us to see our need for God. On our own we can do nothing… our life is in the hands of the Lord. Do I trust God to “complete the good work he has begun in me?” Is God able and willing to take care of me and all of my needs? Will he only do it if I score 100% on life’s test…. only when I’m perfect will he answer my prayers. Does God love me… does he love me enough to take care of me in my weakness and sin.? Hmmmmmm.
Often it’s our pride that the Lord is fundamentally confronting. Often he is using these sufferings and even frustrations to cause us to surrender to his love and care. Fr. Jacques Philippe says “It is certain that people who start by priding themselves on their spiritual ‘successes’ will fall into despair sooner of later.” (“Interior Freedom, by Fr. Jacques Philippe, Ch,IV,sec.3,p.115) Ouch, that may be hitting close to home.
Well, this can all get a bit complicated, but in the end, our hope is in the Lord. He is the one we are counting on to take care of us…… to care for our temporal needs, but most importantly to take care of our eternal needs… the forgiveness of sin, the promise of heaven. In the end, our hope is in the Lord who made heaven and earth.
In Christ, there’s no wasting of time…. all will work to the good …from the waiting in line on the Parkway to the waiting for the healing of our dearest friends. And that is very good news.