What matters is how I handle these wrenches, and honestly, I haven’t been handling them all that well. But there’s still time to do better. There’s always time to do better.
When I was nine or so, I was playing on a raft with friends when I tumbled off into the water and somehow got entangled in a rope. For a moment that seemed longer than it probably was, I was trapped underwater. I don’t remember how I eventually reached the surface, but I’ll never forget the panic taking hold of my body as my lungs started to burn. All I could hear was the sloshing of the water around me as my arms and legs violently thrashed. I tried to scream, but all that came out of my mouth was a drift of bubbles that traveled to the surface I could not reach.
Unable to breathe or free myself from the rope, I experienced a suffocating anxiety. For a swath of time, everything – my very life – was out of my control.
Trust isn’t easy, especially when things don’t pan out the way you had hoped or planned or even believed they would. Consider Jesus. His trust compelled him to suffer and die on the cross. He was not without fear. He pleaded, “Let this cup pass,” but he ultimately accepted his Father’s will. Why? Because he trusted God. He believed everything would work out in the end. And, boy, did it ever.
On March 25th, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the day Mary said, “Yes.” Not, “Yes, this all makes complete sense,” but “Yes, I have no idea what this all means, but I trust you. I will be the handmaid of the Lord.” Mary’s trust allowed her to embrace much joy, but her life was not without heartache. She helplessly watched her only son die a torturous death. She held his limp, lifeless body in arms and was left only with faith in God’s eternal promise. But that faith was enough. Sometimes it has to be.
Faith didn’t make Jesus and Mary’s lives painless. It won’t guarantee us freedom from pain either. What faith and praying in faith can offer us is the ability to endure suffering without giving in to feelings of despair, anger, or fear. And our faith reminds us that some things never change. Thank God for that.
Yesterday the girls and I were counting turtles sunning on the banks of a pond near our house. The sun was warm on our backs. An orchestra of happy birds filled the air. The baby’s feet were wiggling with joy as she watched her sisters skip ahead. I was thinking about how it felt so good to be outside with my children, unplugged and unaware of the latest news headlines, and to not be sweating the small or the big stuff when one of my daughters grabbed my hand and tilted her chin up to me and grinned before saying, “I wuv you.”
“I love you, too,” I said.
And this will always be so.
And God will always be so, too.
Things get all mixed up. I make a mess of things a lot of time; yet, there’s also so much that remains out of my control. But everything rights itself in time. Not in my time, but in God’s time.
I can fight with my words. I can cave in to fear. I can worry about what may or may not be. Or I can choose to trust God in the midst of all the change – good or bad. I can choose to love instead of hardening my heart. I can choose to remember that it has already been revealed that God prevails in the end.
“Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid,” Jesus told his frightened disciples when the crashing waves threatened to swallow them.
Take courage the next time you feel like you’re drowning or you’re scared or hurting. He hasn’t gone anywhere. He never will.
God became one of us to give us hope and peace – if not in our world than in our hearts. It’s our job to keep faith because it is Him that we can all trust and believe in.
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