A Life That Shows Forth Faith

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Several years ago, in a small blank-as-a-canvas hospital room, with just a few chairs, I sat with a grandmother, some aunts and uncles, and a couple ICU doctors, delivering News. The elder children were injured, but would be alright. The youngest, somewhere between baby and toddlerhood, would not survive. When this grandmother, this matriarch, heard this News she said, through tears:

Gracias, Señor, por mis hijos.
Gracias que los pude abrazar ayer.
Gracias que pasamos este fin de semana juntos.

Thank you, Lord, for my children.
Thank you that I was able to hug them yesterday.
Thank you that we spent this past weekend together.

As aunts and uncles piled on her, embracing one another in grieving love, and as she continued to lament in prayer, I sat there in awe. Now, years later, with many more difficult bits of News under my belt, I have seen this same reaction a few more times, and I am still in awe. This is how I want my soul to be formed. This is how I want my life to show forth my faith:

Confronted with even the hardest, most painful things the world slings at me, I want to be a person who reflexively runs straight to my loving Lord because I have trained for it in smaller moments. Like an athlete building certain muscles and movement patterns to be effective in their sport, I want to be a person who has the soul training to give thanks in the face of hardship; because giving thanks to God in this way is an act of defiance against the narrative that death wins. It is refusing to be won over by the lie that grief, pain, and wrongness get to define our story, because we know that Jesus is risen. We are not “uninformed about those who sleep in death” and therefore “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). This faithful grandmother, who had been following Jesus must have been training her soul for years to give thanks every time she came across an inconvenience or disappointment.
Just like Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.” Listening to this woman I realized that you cannot do that in the big moments unless you have done it in the small ones. Just like you can’t compete in a sport unless you’ve done drills to gain skill in the particular movements it requires.

Let us train our souls in in God-ward-ness. What drill stands out to you today? What if we train ourselves to turn toward God by telling him about each big emotion we have? Or train to look for things to thank him for in all the small disappointments of daily life. Doing this not as a way to ignore hard things, but to recognize that there’s always a both-and? Or what if we trained ourselves to forgive each little slight, acknowledging the hurt and then releasing it at the foot of the cross?
What if we then moved on to bigger things, like trusting God to provide for us if we have to let go of a job? Or doing something scary that he may be asking us to do? Maybe then, one day, in the face of big Loss, we’ll be able to say, “Thank you God for the time you gave me with this beloved person… or place… or job… and thank you that you’re redeeming all things. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with this.”

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