Archive for the ‘Trials’ Category

Faith Among the Shambles

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

In arguing with Job, their understandable concern is that in the depths of this man’s despair his thoughts seem to be irreverently taken up with the collapse of God’s good favor towards him, rather than with the collapse of his own faith. The supreme irony of this judgment is that really it is they who, by clinging to their theology of successful living or else, show themselves to be lacking faith in God, while Job, by honestly and passionately facing the shambles that his life has become, proves that in the pit of his heart he trusts his Lord.

— Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p. 82

Job’s Depression

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

It is important to realize that nowhere in this book are we given reason to believe that Job’s depression, in and of itself, is ever viewed by the Lord as being his own “fault.” On the contrary, in view of the clear mandate for unlimited harassment (short of death) given to Satan in the Prologue, we are constrained to see Job’s psychic trauma as part and parcel with his other trials, just one more of the Devil’s assaults upon his faith. In fact the message that begins to unfold in Chapter 3 is that depression in a believer, far from being unforgivable, is one of the things that the Lord is most ready and eager to forgive. It may even be something that does not call for forgiveness at all, and far from being a sign of loss of faith it may actually demonstrate the presence of the sort of genuine and deeply searching faith that God always honors.

— Mike Mason, The Gospel According to Job, p. 59-60

The Broken

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

Hannah tasted salty tears of infertility. Elijah howled for God to take his life. David asked his soul a thousand times why it was so downcast. God does great things through the greatly wounded. God sees the broken as the best and He sees the best in the broken and He calls the wounded to be the world changers.

— Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way, p. 24

Fuel for Growth

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

To soar above is to go beyond limits, to become greater, to become the most empowered and humane persons we can be. This, I believe, is the evolved function of pain: not to suffer or to identify with suffering but to grow beyond it. As we’ve seen, the natural function of pain is to motivate behavior that will heal, correct, and improve. The Adult brain uses pain as fuel for growth.

— Steven Stosny, Soar Above, p. 144

Facing the Wind

Monday, April 24th, 2017

“We are meant to live in joy,” the Archbishop explained. “This does not mean that life will be easy or painless. It means that we can turn our faces to the wind and accept that this is the storm we must pass through. We cannot succeed by denying what exists. The acceptance of reality is the only place from which change can begin.” The Archbishop had said that when one grows in the spiritual life, “You are able to accept anything that happens to you.” You accept the inevitable frustrations and hardships as part of the warp and woof of life. That question, he had said, is not: How do we escape it? The question is: How can we use this as something positive?

— Archbishop Desmond Tutu, quoted by Douglas Abrams in The Book of Joy, p. 224

Deepest Wounds

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Maybe you can live a full and beautiful life in spite of the great and terrible moments that will happen right inside of you. Actually — maybe you get to become more abundant because of those moments. Maybe — I don’t know how, but somehow? — maybe our hearts are made to be broken. Broken open. Broken free. Maybe the deepest wounds birth deepest wisdom.

— Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way, p. 24

Gifts Outweigh the Trials

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

How strange and vibrant and astounding is this gift of life! So what if it’s hard? So what if we’re hounded by troubles, pressured and embattled on all sides? So many good gifts outweigh the trials. Thank God that we encounter some resistance to our cavalier passage through this world. Thank God He has designed life not to be easy but to test us to the limit and so turn lazy ingrates into children of God who are strong and fearless and full of love.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 48

Happy People and Pain

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Happy people have just as much pain as anyone else, in some cases more. It could even be argued that the happy feel pain more acutely than the unhappy, whose feelings are relatively numb. The real difference in happy people is that they’re not trapped by their pain. Rather than settling inside a happy soul, pain moves through it as through a channel, and that channel is joy. Joy keeps pain moving.

Happiness, rather than indicating an absence of pain, denotes a certain efficiency of processing life’s problems. Happy people don’t stay stuck for long; their lives are too rich for that. Greater happiness empowers them to take on more challenges, and moving through challenges makes them happier still.

Joy knows it’s on the winning side. That’s why it can rejoice even in the midst of suffering. If any of life’s horrors were permanent or unconquerable, joy would be impossible. Yet how easily we’re cowed into a defeatist attitude. It doesn’t take a major calamity to get us down; a petty annoyance will do nicely. A day, an entire week, indeed a lifetime, can be spoiled by a series of light and momentary troubles. While one believer praises God in the midst of terminal illness, another grumbles because of a runny nose. What’s the difference between these two lives? Attitude.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 41-42.

Maturity and Affliction

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Yes, our maturity certainly involves doing the things Jesus did. Healing and all. But that maturity also involves becoming like him in the transformation of our character. It involves holiness — loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Being willing to suffer the loss of everything for him. Choosing him in the midst of suffering. Which is to say, having within us the character of Jesus. And how does God shape our character? We hate the answer, but we know it to be true: affliction.

— John Eldredge, Moving Mountains, p. 224

Accepting Reality

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

But what happens when life presents you with unavoidable or overwhelming suffering? This is where the example of the Jesuit approach to obedience may be helpful. What enables a Jesuit to accept difficult decisions by his superior is the same thing that can help you: the realization that this is what God is inviting you to experience at this moment. It is the understanding that somehow God is with you, at work and revealed in a new way in this experience.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying that God wills suffering or pain. Nor that any of us will ever fully understand the mystery of suffering. Nor that you need to look at every difficulty as God’s will. Some suffering should be avoided, lessened, or combated: treatable illnesses, abusive marriages, unhealthy work situations, dysfunctional sexual relationships.

Nonetheless, Ciszek understood that God invites us to accept the inescapable realities placed in front of us. We can either turn away from that acceptance of life and continue on our own, or we can plunge into the “reality of the situation” and try to find God there in new ways. Obedience in this case means accepting reality.

— James Martin, S. J., The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, p. 282-283.