My husband and I recently spent about two weeks on a car trip and visit to Austin to see one of our sons and his family. We generally listen to books on tape when we drive and one choice this trip was Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To! Great book with many sound insights. One of the prayers seemed to me to be the quintessential prayer of hope. "God get me through this!" You can only pray that prayer if you expect God to do exactly that!
We all have terrible times that grind us down and challenge us with nagging doubts. Does God really love me to allow this disaster in my life? Why is He so silent while I'm suffering? Where are you, God? Are you listening?
The grim reality is that life is, as the prayer says, a "vale of tears. " And sometimes we can feel overwhelmed as if those tears have created an ocean and we are drowning in it. Keeping our head above water for five more minutes seems impossible.
The older I get the more it seems to me that each of us lives in our own personal soap opera. And, while we know the details of our personal tragic stories, we often don't see the hidden realities in other people's lives. Here's an example. Our family lived across the street from an older couple for about five years before we found out one of their grandsons had committed suicide. The husband was an Episcopal minister who taught at the seminary in Alexandria. I can only image the pain and the questions he must have asked God. Could I have done something? Why didn't my grandson come to me? I would have been there for him.
While we were in Texas, a friend of our daughter-in-law lost an adult child in a tragic car accident. She was only days from entering the convent. And before we left a few days later another young adult in the parish was killed in a similar way. How do you cope and retain hope in the midst of such suffering?
I think the crucifix is the only answer. The psalmist says, "Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth." And the Word made flesh who suffered and died for our salvation offers the ultimate hope that there is joy beyond the pain. Yes, life is hard, but God Himself came and said, "I am the way." If we follow in His footsteps...His bloody, painful footsteps....we will experience the resurrection. I don't mean embracing the cross doesn't involve a struggle against rage and rebellion. I've been there myself. But I've also experienced the fulfillment of the promise that God will, indeed, get me through anything life throws at me. So every morning I pray the act of hope:
O my God, relying on your almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope in the forgiveness of sins, the help of your grace, and life everlasting through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen