I chanced upon a Pins of Light online retreat today and got to thinking a lot about suffering, loss and disappointment. I don't always have these things in mind but as I was doing the retreat, news of my dad's back pain reached me and worried me (being based far from home).
When everything is going great, it's easy to be joyful in hope. But when things take a turn for the worse, the normal response is to ask, "Why?"
These days it's easy to get disheartened. Gas attacks on innocent civilians including children in Syria, extra judicial killings in the Philippines, a big earthquake that they say will happen here in Japan soon.... are just some of the reasons.
But as Christians, we aren't called to be on Good Friday mode all the time. We are called to walk in the light of Christ and that light is HOPE! We are an Easter people and we walk in the knowledge that Jesus rose on the 3rd day.
Despite the gloom of today, we can look to a bright tomorrow.
Look at Elijah. In my humble opinion, Elijah had everything going for him. He called down fire from heaven and God sent fire. He asked for rain to stop the 3 year famine and God sent rain. He would converse with God just like you would with a friend. He had God on his side! Imagine that. (1 Kings 18)
But when queen Jezebel sentenced Elijah to die, he fled around a hundred miles in fear. He prayed for God to take his life. Of course God did no such thing. But the point is, anyone can get discouraged, fearful, despondent and all those heavy emotions. Even Elijah.
By the way I was so blessed to visit Elijah's cave on Mt. Carmel in Israel and one could not imagine how someone could take refuge there, let alone live there for years. The Carmelites stayed there too and founded the order in the 12th century.
Sometimes we do go into our caves and brood. The good thing is that we know what happens when a cave, a tomb is emptied of its power - the sting of death is no more! All because He left the cave on Easter Sunday!
Death and sin and this world's darkness are only temporary in the framework of eternity. They are tools in God's hands to show His glory.
I think of my Dad today and I pray for him in the hope that all his pain is not in vain. I pray for persecuted Christians all around the world. I pray for the perpetrators of terrorism, that one day, God's love will reach them. I pray for people to know of His inexplicable, divine mercy.
So today and these days are days of joyful hope. Each affliction must be met with patience and we must be faithful in prayer as we await the Lord's coming - in our hearts as well as at the last day.
Blessed Holy Week to one and all!