PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

 

Colloquy on suffering


It took me seven years into the Renewal before I fully realized how small my faith in You is, especially when it comes to little things. The proof of this is crystal-clear: I worry a lot.

As though the proof is incontrovertible enough, I once asked an officemate to verify it and, true enough, he affirmed that my one enduring image is that I am always anxious. I also remember that back in college, my classmates would tell me I was a constant grumbler.

I'm sure, God, You are slighted big time. I can always raise the excuse, though, that I have always lived a life of uncertainty.

But God, You can always retort, "That's the point. That's what the test is all about." "If you truly believe that I love you in the face of uncertainty, then why should you fret at all?"

I have philosophized countless times that suffering has a loving purpose. Yet, I can't help but worry, though I know that worrying is pointless. I seem to have been born fearful of the world. Maybe insecurity is the price of having been born way too early?

I know, I know, I should channel my being a worrywart into something productive, like finding a way out of the things that cause me worry. But You know that's exactly one of my great worries - I couldn't find a way out, try and pray hard as I might. I feel trapped in the world I live in, even if I am supposedly free. I feel freedom is pointless if I am enchained in some way.

Hence, the only logical thing from all these, is for worrying to become my mark and for it to show on my face - a testament that I don't trust You well enough. Or a testament that I've been expecting You to be Santa Claus all the time when all You're probably saying all along is for me to learn to trust, hope against hope, even when there's nothing to hope for.

That's really a tall order, Lord, considering who I am, how I was raised. You know I was educated to think like a scientist, from grade school to college. "To see is to believe." "This set of variables gives this set of conclusions." I couldn't think out of the box. There are certain physical laws to consider. So when this particular need arises or this particular problem hits me and I see nothing in the horizon, I see nothing but despair ahead of me.

This scientific thought process has apparently left me a wide room to doubt Your divinity. "Are You really a good provider? Are You really my Good Shepherd like You said? How come You don't deliver all the time like I expected? Why do You keep on testing me to the point that I break? Of course, You know up to what point my pain threshold is? Why don't You put a stop NOW?"

Can anyone blame me about being a worrywart? Can You, Lord? Can You blame me if I ended up blaming others as well? The company I work for for not giving me a higher pay? My parents for being unemployed for the longest time? My siblings for counting on me? My country for making my life miserable with taxes and bills and bad service? God, You know I've done and am doing my best, so what gives?

If all these sufferings are not from You, as You've said - which means the devil is so fond of me - then why allow things to happen at all? Why me, why this? What sins do I still need to confess and expiate? How can I be totally free from this yoke, this shackle? Is this how strange Your brand of love is?

I know things could have been worse, thank God. Other people get dreadful diseases, horrible accidents, and all. But I've come to You precisely for healing and protection and providence, and ultimately, redemption. Lord, I'm not asking for mansions and troves and troves of gold; all I'm asking is a life of dignity. Can't I have at least a foretaste of it?

What would nonbelievers say if I couldn't show them any proof of Your love? Maybe to some, my unbelievable human resolve to hang on is enough proof, but what matters to me is if I, myself, feel secure and confident, with nothing to worry myself to death about.

I've lost everything, Lord, You can see plainly. When I was growing up, You gave me this impression that I would succeed in life. Now that I'm 30 years old, what have I gotten by way of accomplishment, at least by worldly standards? Nothing. That's what I've got right now - nothing, so that there's nothing left for me to lose.

But do I have to lose You too?

Lord, forgive me for my little faith. All I've been doing here really is make excuses, but the truth of the matter is, I'm a man of little faith. Maybe it's Your will, after all, that I remain this miserable for sometime, for some reason or another. All I've been doing here is say my long, talkative piece to You. Perhaps, what I need is to listen to You more?

In any case, Lord, I realize I couldn't trust You on my own, even if it would save my soul. My human resolve can only get me so far. It is really dependent on Your grace, like everything else in this world. I am really helpless without Your mercy.

I know the importance of hope, of believing that while I breathe, I hope. But supposing, just supposing, that this is it for me - knock on wood, then I don't want to be a victim of false hopes, either.

I choose to live holding on to Your grace for the moment, a grace which is renewed moment by moment. What if, indeed, You have willed that this is the end of the road for me, will that make a difference in my role as creature and Your role as Creator? Will it diminish Your omnipotence as God of the Universe? I think not. I am really nothing in anybody's reckoning, unless You say it isn't so.

Lord, all I'm asking You now is to give me that kind of faith that even in material deprivation, I can proclaim that I'm rich; even in physical or emotional pain and sickness, I can say that I am well and strong; and even in my seemingly hopeless situation, I can be assured that I am loved. Give me that kind of faith that even if life would be like this till the end of my days, I would still be serving and loving You and believing in You as my Father, Lord and Savior. Then I stop worrying.

6.5.2001


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