It is not so difficult to be happy and to believe in God’s goodness and care when we are in control of our lives, when our circumstances are favourable and things are going our way. Then it is even easy to share our good fortune with others and to relate it to God’s loving care and kindness.
The real test comes when we lose control; when our good fortune or happy circumstances one day suddenly change or get out of hand; when like the waves in a stormy sea, life seems to turn against us, showing us its darker face and threatening to overwhelm and even to destroy us.
We don’t often consciously reflect on it, but most people of course go through such bad experiences some or other time - disappointment and disillusionment, the death of a loved one, the shattering news of loss or betrayal, the illnesses of old age, etc. These are all things that can plunge us into a state of anxiety and deep depression, a dark abyss of hopelessness. As with Peter in Matt 14:30 such experiences can overwhelm us, make us sink, especially when we did not expect them, when we were still counting on the sheltering and protective care of the Lord.
What do we do when this happens? How do we go about it when life, so to speak, shows us its darker side? Like Peter we are called to do what is really difficult, to deliberately turn our eyes away from our depressing circumstances and to focus on Him who is Lord - the One who walks on water (Matt 14:25) and calms the seas (Matt 8:26). The message is that however dark and rough our life may become, He is still in control - He is the risen One who is holding us and carrying us forward, our good Shepherd who promised to be with us even if we go through the deepest darkness (Ps 23:4).
In practice this amounts to nothing more than a simple act of faith - one in which we should discipline ourselves to become quiet, to breathe deeply and to lift our eyes and hearts again to God, even to kneel like a child and to start speaking to Him directly. Don’t think this act too small or insignificant. If you can wait patiently and persevere, this may just become the place from where you, sometimes unexpectedly, might gain new perspective, also the energy to deal with your pressing circumstances. Many believers through the ages can testify to this.
This week I was reminded again of how crucial such a small act of faith is. Complaining about a setback in my own life the other day, a friend who was listening, simply asked me this one question: “Have you ever spoken to the Lord about it? Have you ever brought it to God in prayer?”
Is it possible that we, who profess to follow the living Christ, can forget this?
“Die Via Dolorosa” – ‘n Paasherinneringsdiens
12 years ago