“I’m so lost, Father!” — “I don’t know where I’m going!” — “I’m so alone as if God has abandoned me and no one cares about me!” — “I just want to give up!”
“My child is in such a dark place in his/her life…so lost, Father, but I don’t know how to help him or her!” — “Help me to know what to do, Father!”
These are some examples of the typical conversation when someone comes to me to talk. I see many young people who are “lost” or do not know what to do in life, as well as concerning family members who do not know how to help their young ones in life’s struggles. All sides are hurt and confused, and the pains are real. Yet, the pains and darkness are not the only things that are present… There is someone there waiting for us in the midst of the storm! As the struggle gets real, the storm gets darker and rougher, and the desert journey gets lonely, we tend to lose hope and give up. Yet, we are never alone. Perhaps, these struggles are there to remind us that we need to turn to the One who loves us.
One of my friends has given me a great quote in recent time: “Don’t tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big your God is!” So, I believe, this is where we will begin this reflection, and in a real way, how each of us is providentially reminded in our daily and lifelong struggles. We are in this life journey with God, and only He can guide us through it.
First of all, for those who are struggling right now, I can promise you that you are not alone. While it is the tactics of the Devil to isolate us with negativities and despair by attacking us where we are most vulnerable, seek to do more than what seems to be naturally inclined and tempted at the present time by seeking help. Do not give up on praying! The natural anxieties and worries of being alone and lost remind us that we are not created nor meant to be alone. They remind us that we need to seek something higher than the present messiness. We belong to someone and our heart and soul are created for the love that is greater than what is currently in front of us right now. If we know that this world and what it told us is not really life-giving, it will then have to be otherworldly and supernatural. Perhaps our soul is right in yearning for what it is meant to be, by being loved by God, even though it might be hurt or lost in the present moment.
While the Devil is working hard to deceive us from the truth by isolating us, filling us with despair and doubts, we have to look deep from within to listen and understand where and what we are called to be by focusing on who we truly are. Our God is bigger than any problem that we might have facing us at this moment! He is in control and we have to allow Him to be in control, even though it is tempting to simply abandon hope to find other alternatives. However, our personal, social, and world histories tell us that we — collectively and individually — cannot do it by ourselves and we are nothing without Him. We can fix the apparent problems or learn how to cope with the issues in front of us, but we can never truly be free and restful both body and soul unless we find consolation in Him.
In our darkness, we are invited to find the One that gives us light! In our apparent hopelessness, we are taught to find the Lover that gives us the transformative, everlasting, and life-giving love that conquers all deceptions. In our doubts and distrusts, we need to learn to patiently and confidently trust in the Infinite Creator and Maker that gives life to all things as well as to make all things new with His grace.
His everlasting love is the power that frees us from the bondage of addiction, casts off the darkness of depression, heals broken relationships. His everlasting love is the power that liberates us from earthly enslavements and evil deceptions. God is real and His promise is real! He will never abandon us and His love will free us from all the things that take the truth and our divinely-given life from us. Even in the darkest hours, even when we feel lost, we are not alone. He will not abandon us. The Letter to the Hebrews stated:
“We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises. Human beings swear by someone greater than themselves; for them, an oath serves as a guarantee and puts an end to all argument. So when God wanted to give the heirs of His promise an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of His purpose, He intervened with an oath, so that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us.” (6:11-12, 16-19)
In the same way, Saint Augustine affirmed God’s faithful love in his writing as he encourages the faithful to pray with Christ and in Christ, as the body united to the Head.
“God could give no greater gift to men than to make His Word, through whom He created all things, their Head and to join them to Him as His members, so that the Word might be both Son of God and Son of Man, one God with the Father, and one man with all men. The result is that when we speak with God in prayer we do not separate the Son from Him, and when the body of the Son prays it does not separate its Head from itself: it is the one Savior of His body, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who prays for us and in us and is Himself the object of our prayers.”
Therefore, in your apparent despair and darkness, do not abandon all hopes. Do not abandon your faith! Do not abandon God for He will not abandon you. Start to listen to what your soul and spirit are trying to say. It is important not to ignore or mask the deeper hunger and thirst that your heart of heart is calling out for! Just as this physical world was created from the initial spark of immense light and outburst of radiating energy through the will and power of God, darkness is only a negation of what is life-giving and central to the universe, which is light itself. Hence, darkness is not the end of all things, for it is there to simply points out the greater need for light. Darkness is only the absence of this life-giving light of divine grace. Perhaps it is, just like what I have stated before, a reminder to reach out and find help for we are not alone nor ever meant to be alone. Find someone who you can trust to confide your problems and able to show you another perspective and the holistic outlook on life. Find a priest, as your spiritual director and guide, to help you along the way. Do not be afraid or think that you are alone in the present struggle, for many others, including saints, have had their own struggles in their own life and faith journeys.
Second, for those who know someone who is lost, be patient. All of us have had those similar moments when we were lost and gone away from home. Perhaps each and every one of us has to be lost in our own rebellions, self-reliance, depressive or negative choices to know where our true home is. Many of us have strayed away from home, thinking that we would be happy elsewhere but just to find that the only place to be happy and loved is to be at home. We are invited to recall The Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11–32 as we learn to patiently wait for the return of our loved ones. In our sorrows and love for those who had gone astray, we are invited to share in the love of our Heavenly Father who patiently waited for us to return to Him each time we strayed away from His love. It hurts and causes many pains, but we can now see how much our own past rebellions had hurt those who are in our lives as well. Just as our Heavenly Father lovingly waited for our return, we are taught to be patient and lovingly pray for our loved ones when they are away from us. These are the times to practice the virtue of hope as we trust in divine providence and as we learn to lovingly pray to the Lord, entrusting and believing in His infinite wisdom and goodness, that He understands our pains and cares for our loved ones and their salvation more than we can ever imagine.
Whether we are lost or love someone who is struggling or have lost their way, we know that we are not alone. Even in our darkest time, God is with us. He is with us even when we cannot recognize or see Him with our human senses. Yet, even when we feel that we are stuck in our self-created or evil-inflicted despair and doubts, do not be afraid nor lose hope. Let us trust in God and faithful in prayers! Just as He loves us, let us love Him in return and never abandon Him. In our darkness, we are invited to find the One that gives us light. In our apparent hopelessness, we are taught to find the Lover that gives us the transformative, everlasting, and life-giving love that conquers all deceptions. In our doubts and distrusts, we need to learn to patiently and confidently trust in the Infinite Creator and Maker that gives life to all things as well as to make all things new with His grace. Do not be afraid to seek Him for He is only but a prayer away!