This is a column from the Nov. 2 issue of The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. It was written by Patti Lamb, one of the newspaper’s regular columnists.
Have you ever found yourself in a “faith valley?” By that, I mean a place where your spiritual life would really benefit from an answered prayer or an unexpected blessing or something in the “win” column?
Recently, I took a walk with a girlfriend on a brisk fall Saturday morning.
She shared that she feels there’s been some interference between God and her.
“It’s like the heavenly cell towers are down, and my prayers aren’t quite reaching his ears,” she said.
My friend explained that she sensed some sort of disconnect, like communication lines were cut and it felt like God couldn’t hear her prayers—or even her praise.
I could relate to her feelings and told her that I was in need of a faith infusion, too.
We both expressed that we know God is good — all the time — but there are points in our spiritual journeys when he feels far away. Our conversation turned to a few of our friends, who were also encountering various challenges to their faith.
One was nervously awaiting the outcome of her mother’s medical tests; another’s marriage was undergoing turbulence. These friends of ours, close to God and faithful to him in every way, were also struggling with spiritual doubt and silence. No one seems to be exempt from the stings of this earthly life.
I called my girlfriend later that weekend to share an entry I’d read from a devotional book called “Jesus Always” by Sarah Young.
“Trust in my unfailing love — thanking me for the good you do not see. When evil seems to be flourishing in the world around you, it can look as if things are spinning out of control. But rest assured: I’m not wringing my hands helplessly, wondering what to do next. I am still in control, and there is behind-the-scenes goodness in the midst of the turmoil. So I urge you to thank me not only for the blessings you can see, but for the ones you cannot see. … You must not let confusing circumstances shake your faith in me. When your world feels unsteady, the disciplines of trusting and thanking me serve to stabilize you.”
The writer referenced St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” (Rom 11:33)
God’s ways are so far above anything our finite human minds can comprehend.
I circled back to the last line of the passage, and suggested to my friend that we “use the disciplines of trusting and thanking to stabilize us.”
We came up with a new prayer mantra to cling to when life’s circumstances present challenges to our faith: “I trust you. I thank you. I love you. Amen.”
My friend and I have come to realize that heaven’s cell towers aren’t down after all. We’re still getting service, but we need to change our mindsets and step out in faith.
She texted me with a quote from author John Ortberg: “Peace does not lie in getting God to give me other circumstances. Peace lies in finding God in these circumstances.”
And that’s what I think we all truly struggle with: acceptance of God’s will. I keep finding myself praying for a specific resolution to a given petition, but my prayer should truly be to acknowledge that God, creator of heaven and Earth, has a firmer grasp on what’s best for me than my tiny human brain can conceive.
Gracious God, wherever we are today, please help us find you there.
The views or positions presented in this or any guest commentary are those of the individual publication and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicPhilly.com, Catholic News Service or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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