I often get asked by young people the reason why they need to believe in God when He does not seem to answer their prayers, when they do not always get what they want, or when they end up getting hurt by life. Many spiritual masters remind us that our faith and life of prayer are not to change the will of God, but to expand and dispose of our hearts to receive His loving will for us. If our faith is only dependent on getting the things that we want, this world would end up in chaos because our wants would clash and potentially end up causing us to hurt one another. Not everyone gets what they want, but the grace of God, freely and personally given from His providential loving care for us, always gives us what we need daily to live what He calls us to be in love.
One of my good friends made a mask for me. It said, “Faith: it does not make things easier – it makes them possible.” I think this speaks volumes! True faith does not make things go our way, but it gives us the disposition, willingness, and strength to bear what is thrown at us by the ups and downs of life.
Life is filled with many uncertainties. Even with our best intentions and plans, we cannot control everything. As human beings, we dislike this reality because we like to know or have things we are able to control and understand, but life shows us that many things are beyond our comprehension and finite abilities. Faith reminds us that we do not have to always know everything in order to trust! Our faith reminds us that God is with us every step of the way, even in the storms of life themselves. We might not be able to have everything works out as we would like them to, nothing in this world should be able to deter us from focusing on our God-given identity and our true mission and purpose of eternal life. Things might get challenging, and we will, at times, not know how to handle them or what is going on. Nevertheless, nothing should ever shake us from being grounded in God, in who we are as His sons and daughters, and in why we are called to abide in His love in the midst of many ups and downs. Each day might has its own evils and struggles, but nothing in this world is ever perfect and rosey, for the path is filled with many sceneries, hills, mountains, and valleys.
When I was still assigned to the three parishes in the Northwest Deanery of the Diocese of Fort Worth, each Sunday, I would begin to drive out to the farthest parish in Electra early in the morning. Even though it was a familiar road, it was also narrow with a deep drop-off and no curb, so I had to be careful while driving. I hit or ran over small critters before; but one day, a young buck ran across and hit my SUV. There was little to nothing that I could have done because if I steer left or right at high speed, I could have risked the vehicle getting flipped. I knew the road and its dangers, and even though I tried my best to be safe, there were also many elements that I cannot control.
Even though the young buck did not seriously get hurt, he did a lot of damage in the front of my car. It was not a good day, but I just had to take it as it came! I share with you this story because it resembles much of life. No matter how much we do our best to prepare, there are certain things that just tend to pop up unexpectedly with life itself. Therefore, to expect things to be perfect and work out the ways we want them to be before we believe, trust, and put our faith in God is something unrealistic, unimaginable, and futile.
To believe in God is not to expect everything to be right or our way before we get to know, fall in love, and deepen our relationship of love with the One who cares and loves us from the beginning. Hence, to believe and to live it out in a life of prayer, is not to control or change the mind of God according to our will and understanding. It is to conform our mind and way of life to embrace, love, and live out His will. The life of faith does not make things easier or better, it reminds each and every one of us that He gives us sufficient grace to bear all trials, hardships, and challenges. Faith allows us to embrace the trials and able to battle against the forces of evil in order to truly be free to live as children of God.
Evil forces and the things of this world want to enslave us! There is no such thing as “no string attached” when it comes to the spiritual world because the forces out there want our souls to belong to them. These forces often use the matters of this world, as well as temptations, weaknesses, false pleasures, and satisfactions, to deter us from truly loving God and His will for us. They use lies, manipulations, and deceptions to sow doubt, despair, and falsehood to make us trust in other matters or our very own selves instead of the faithful love of God and His transcendental, eternal, salvific, redemptive, and loving desire for us.
Over and over again, we have heard and seen numerous stories of evil spirits that tormented many people in the Sacred Scriptures. We often think it is something superstitious or made up by ignorant people, but we have failed to know or accept the existence of spirits who are at work, more powerful and higher beings than us, trying to deceive and make us turn away from God‘s goodness and His love for us. If we would have taken just a small moment to sit back, calm ourselves and our egocentric control, reflect, and pray, we would be able to see that there are things that are at work to sow hopelessness, despair, doubt, and division among us and within our very own selves, too. There are things that we cannot simply intellectually or psychologically explain at work to put all trust in our humanistic, finite, and limited capacities, abilities, or understanding instead of truly seeing the wider, grander, and fullness of reality according to the eternal scope! By keeping us focused on us the ever-changing matters of this world, it is easy for them to enslave us to the constant fluxes and worries of life instead of lifting up our hearts to the things that really mattered.
Over and over again, the Lord showed us that He was not interested in healing people physically alone, He desired to set them free from the enslavement of evil spirits and deceptive things of this world. Every time He healed a person, He always asked them about their desire to trust in Him or their willingness to be healed by Him. He always asked them to put their faith and trust in Him! Without a doubt, He continues to have the power to free each and every one of us from our sinfulness, self-centeredness entitlements, and pitiful desire to control and understand all things, or lesser goods of this world if we believe in Him as to open our hearts and allow His loving grace to change us deep from within.
When those healed and freed by the Lord wanted to follow Him, He often asked them to return to where they were to proclaim what God had done for them! He desires that we share with others what God has done for us in our very own lives, especially the true liberation and freedom we have in Him. If each and every one of us understands that true, genuine, and immense freedom and joy we have, this world would be filled with people who are less anxious about the changing matters of life and more joyful in their love of God. To have faith is not to mean that everything will be perfect, but to simply accept that there will be challenges (and they can be hard at times), but His loving grace will give us enough strength and joy to truly live as we are able. This is the real secret and result of faith, the key to allowing us to always be joyful in the Lord, even in the midst of many life’s ups and downs! Therefore, let us not be afraid to embark on the journey with our faith grounded in Him and to seek its eternal reward of being forever united with Him who loves us beyond all measures.