FAITH
When in the brink of despair
by Fr. Roy Cimagala

With all the intense pressures, challenges, trials, not to mention, grave problems and crises we meet these days, the likelihood of teetering into discouragement, if not despair, is quite high. This is when we need to fortify our hope, learning how to look beyond what is here and now to see the hand of God behind everything.

We need to acquire this skill, always asking first for the grace of God. In this way, we donít suffer unnecessarily, and if we have to suffer, we donít suffer uselessly. We should strengthen our faith and hope, feeding them with the charity of God, and disabuse ourselves from relying completely on our reason and other human powers. These definitely cannot cope with everything that we have to face in this life.

As the Catechism teaches, our human reason, our most powerful faculty, while capable of knowing Godís will and ways, is hampered ďnot only by the impact of the senses and the imagination, but also by disordered appetites which are the consequences of original sin.Ē (CCC 37)

We need to cultivate humility deeply so we can learn to be trusting in Godís providence even if we cannot fully know and understand his will and ways. Letís always remember that God is our father who will always love us no matter what. He is full of goodness and mercy.

Being omnipotent, he knows how to derive good from evil that is caused directly by us and allowed by God in deference to our freedom. But he can write straight with crooked lines. And if we put ourselves in sync with Godís will and ways, we too could derive good from whatever evil may befall on us.

We really have no reason to fall into discouragement, much less, despair, no matter how grave and ugly our predicament can be. And thatís because God has given us everything to resolve our problems in his own terms while also respecting our human condition.

Even in the worst scenario when death appears inevitable, things can still turn out for our own good, because with Christís redemptive work, the sting of death has been removed.

Thus, we can repeat what St. Paul used to say: ďI have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.Ē (Phil 4,11-13)

Thereís really no reason for us to fall into some morbid fear or helpless self-pity. We just have to learn how to suffer. And this is always possible as long as we are willing to unite ourselves with Christ in his patience.

Letís remember that God does not exempt us from falling into some serious, and sometimes insoluble predicaments. Thatís because he will always respect the limitations of our nature that can sometimes lead us to some trouble, not to mention, our own freedom that we can always misuse and abuse leading us to sin, the worst evil.

And even if personally we have not sinned or do not seem to deserve a particular burden, we all suffer just the same, due to the sins of men, ours and those of others. We should not be surprised by this and waste time complaining about it.

In fact, it can happen that those who suffer the most are the saintly ones who are especially chosen by God to bear the consequences of the sins of all men. Those who are more Christ-like will certainly share more in the redemptive suffering of Christ. The reverse is also true. One becomes more Christ-like the more he suffers. In a sense, suffering is a blessing, a privilege.

For sure, the saints are saints precisely because they have taken the same path of suffering that Christ took. Indeed, suffering can be a clear sign of Godís predilection for us, as it has been with Christ who suffered the death on the cross in obedience to his Fatherís will.

So, if our predicaments and suffering lead us to a state of helplessness, whether they are physical, financial, or even moral due to our sin, we need to adopt the mind of Christ and the saints and the other characters in the gospel who did all they can to get close to Christ, asking for help. Christ certainly listens and knows what to do. He knows how to convert evil into good, suffering into glory, death into life.


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