On December 23, Brooklyn Salisbury posted a social media message. I saw it shared by a person in my network and double checked its accuracy. It is indeed on her Facebook profile.
Even though I do not know her personally, her message touched me in a profound way. In few lines, she expresses a deep sense of peace and hope that would be deemed as contradictory in the eyes of this world. Many would definitely find her message to be discouraging because it is counterculturally hard to understand how can someone has that much peace, especially when she is having to face the end of her life! To be honest with you, I cried when I read it, and I would like to share it with you now.
This is the picture of the lady behind the message, so please keep her in your prayers. Even though many would think that it would a waste to pray for her now because all hope seems to be lost, I believe this is the greatest gift we can offer for her and be united with her at this moment. She might not get what the world thought would be fair for her, Brooklyn is not lost nor is she living with despair. On the contrary, her post reflects an inner peace that comes from a very beautiful and simple soul that has found her rest in God. She is full of hope and its eternal joy because she knows who she is and what is waiting for her at the end of her earthly journey!
As Christians, in order for us to find joy, we need hope. Nevertheless, our hope is not just something that we say that we “wish” for; it is the sure and certain desire of goodness and everlasting joy. It is like a well-packaged gift given to us now by the Almighty, but it takes time to unwrap and understand, which will one day culminate with the beatific vision and eternal life with God. Without hope, there is no true joy because we will constantly run and keep searching for meaningless matters or people to temporarily “satisfy” or fill our emptiness.
Without hope, joy becomes mundane and toxic as we engage in fake relationships of codependency, control, or manipulation in order to get what we want at all costs. Without hope, we become cynical, mistrustful of love and truth, as well as filled with vindictiveness and bitterness. Without hope and joy, we drift through life meaninglessly, just trying to find someone or something to numb the lonely pains deep from within.
Paradoxically, there is a unique but unavoidable type of suffering that exists in the life of faith, hope, and love. None of us can run away from it! This is what the saints call “suffering of the Cross” or “inconvenience of faith” for those who choose to believe and embrace the life of Christ Jesus. This is a real, personal sorrow for those who accept the Cross for the sake of loving Christ in this life, as to die to the world and themselves for the sake of the everlasting truth and eternal life. It is an unavoidable pain that sometimes given, permitted, or dealt to us when we choose to prefer the joys of God to worldly offerings. This kind of mourning and suffering comes from those who are hurt because of their commitment to being disciples of Christ because their genuine discipleship creates resistances, raises obstacles, and makes their lives harder.
There are human and spiritual powers who find this life of commitment to Christian discipleship as irritating, a cause to be mashed, stopped, and discouraged. Even though it is challenging at times, it empowers believers to see the hidden power of grace and to meet suffering with confidence because the Lord had gone before us on the same path. All things, then, even sufferings, become instrumental by which our love becomes more Christlike as we unite everything that we have for our sanctification and salvation of the world. This profound, Christ-centered joy to willingly embrace suffering is indeed a paradox and something that cannot be understood by this world.
The great figures of the Bible and the saints did not go through life easy, as if it was handed to them on a platter. They went through trials and hardships to understand what it truly meant to be great in the Lord! They had to learn that true greatness was not dependent on them or their ability to have all things right, but it lies in our heartfelt understanding that all things are possible with the Lord. They had to learn that life did not have to be perfect, as it was often filled with trials, but the Almighty was always with them as He is with us so we can face all things in confidence with His everlasting promise. Each and everyone of us has our own particular journey back to our heavenly homeland… Some are shorter than others, some have more trials and hardships than our peers, but each of us have our own particular crosses to bear! Furthermore, when we recognize the true value of hope and its eternal joy, I hope we can support each other along the way, especially those who are struggling at the moment.
Without a doubt, our lives are beautiful and worth living when we are able to ground our very selves in Christ Jesus, no matter how long or short it might be. It is not always without strifes and struggles, but we are able to find peace and rest in Him. The roads are not always straightforward and smooth, sometimes ours will be a little bit rough and longer than others, but the journeys are always grace-filled and beautiful. Providentially, too, our obstacles and detours can help us to slow down as to reflect, understand, and appreciate small beauties along the way.
Therefore, let us not lose sight of our final destination and become more attentive in helping those along the way so we can lift our society and those around us to the love of Him who cares and nourishes us deeply from within. Truly, this journey is not about us or about what is in it for us… It has always been about Him! So, let us keep our eyes fixed on the final destination as to persevere and endure the race toward the One who loves us. Life is worth living when we know where we are going, who is with us, why it is worthwhile, what to do when we are tested, and most important of all, what is waiting us at the end of our journey.
I would like to end this reflection by asking you these three questions as you and I contemplate on our own virtues of faith, hope, and love in the midst of life’s journey, especially with all its trials and hardships. Take some time to think about the answers and may the peace of the Lord be with you.
How are you living our faith? What does it mean for you?
What does faith offer you?
What do you hope to hear from God our Father when it all ends?