Getting through the hard times

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Recently, I have met with a number of people who are going through some difficult times. Some of the situations are medical, even life-threatening. Others are economical. Then there are those that are relational. And as each of us knows, when one area of our lives is not going well, it negatively impacts other areas as well, and we find ourselves struggling to cope with a variety of challenges.

At times like these, it’s not uncommon for us to wonder, even aloud, “Why me?” as we strive to make meaning out of what we’re experiencing. We can have
thoughts that we’re being treated unfairly, or have the worst luck; or we struggle to figure out what we’ve “done wrong to deserve this.”

Some wonder why a good God would allow such a painful event to happen; or they try to resist the belief or even do believe that they’re being punished by none other than God. When we’re grappling with these notions about God, it can be especially tumultuous because we find it hard to turn to God for the help and
consolation we need if we believe God is the one who is causing it.

People have been grappling with the same questions from the beginning of time. Our ancestors in faith believed that if you were having a hard time it was because you had sinned or perhaps your parents had sinned. But Jesus rejected this notion ( John 9:2-3). If we ever wonder if God is causing our difficulties, look to Jesus, the human face of God. Nowhere in scripture does it say that Jesus made someone blind or lame or leprous, or that Jesus ostracized anyone or wished them harm.
His heart was opened to all, and he strived to bring healing and hope to all, especially those who were suffering.

Sometime ago there was a popular book published by a Jewish Rabbi: “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?” Interesting reading and the question is great. In my own mind, as one who has been through difficult times and has asked the question, I have come up with several responses.

One: Bad things happen to everyone and good things happen to everyone.
Two: Goodness or badness may be determined by our expectations.
Three: What begins as bad sometimes turns out good.
Four: What begins as good sometimes turns out bad.
Five: Life is what happens in the good times and bad times.
Six: Life is messy for everyone.
Seven: God is with me in all times.
Eight: I will always have, from God, what I need to go forward.
Nine: Life IS beautiful.
Ten: “Some of God’s greatest gifts are our unanswered prayers.” (Garth Brooks)

I don’t ask myself the “Why me?” question as much these days as I once did,
even though it comes to my lips from time to time. Usually I catch myself and
chuckle as I think Why not me. And then I turn to the One who loves me unconditionally and whose promise to NEVER abandon or forsake me holds firm.

Fr. Ronan
jronan@stmarystcatherine.org

January 30
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In speaking to the prophet Jeremiah, God reminds him “before you were born, I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations, I appointed you.”
Whether a prophet or a disciple, the message is the same – God’s love never fails and we are to mirror that love in our lives.
St. Paul describes what that love look like in our lives.
It is patient, kind, not jealous, not rude, does not hold grudges, is hopeful and truthful.
To be loving as St. Paul describes is a tall order, and yet there is no doubt that this is our task as Disciples of Christ.