Crucible of Faith

Earlier this month I wrote: Just enough. This is a sequel.

The reason I am writing this sequel is that I need to expound somewhat on the “suffering” aspect of that post. Although you might think that there would be increased confidence in relying on Divine Providence, there is a lag time between when the suffering (worrying) begins and when you realize that you are getting “just enough.” The lag time varies, perhaps from situation to situation and from person to person. It all depends on the strength of your Faith and how often in the past you have allowed suffering to strengthen it.

We have two spiritual options when faced with suffering. We can reject it or accept it. The World tells us to reject it. The spiritually ignorant or weak will feel that God should reward the faithful, as if that is proof of His love. These people perhaps do not discipline their children or admonish friends all that much. Suffering is painful, pain is bad and should be avoided.

Or we can accept, for as Christians we are called to follow Christ, since He said:

Luke 9:23: “Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

To deny ourselves sounds like we must essentially run counter to our basic instinct of self-preservation. Suffering threatens our survival, and so therefore we must shun it. But we are not animals, subject to instinct, we are made in the image and likeness of God and as “…God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life,” (John 3:16) so we must reflect that love in return and trust in Him, like a child trusts in his or her earthly father.

The pain and uncertainty of material want, such as financial worries of various kinds, has a very debilitating effect on faith. Faith is not material, it can’t feed you physical food or pay the bills. It can feed you and provide courage for tough times, but as I stated earlier, there may be that lag time before it kicks in. And how do you get through that lag time, when your faith is threatened by overwhelming worries and concerns?

Anyone can have strong faith when things are going well. It isn’t hard to trust in God and have faith that things will be all right when they already are. It is when you are struggling to pay the bills, the truck and SUV need repairing (and both are old), and housing expenses are perhaps out of reach… in these times try to keep the faith.

These times can serve as a crucible, a forge or winepress that purifies and strengthens the faith. Purify it from all insincerity and falsehood, or refining it for some divine purpose. Strengthen it for tough times ahead (the World is increasingly unfriendly to Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular).

Psalm 66:10: “You tested us, O God, tried us as silver tried by fire.”

1 Peter 1:7: “In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

We can cut and run when it gets tough, when our daily troubles feel overwhelming and no end appears in sight. We can abandon our Faith and resort to unethical or immoral solutions to our problems, or if not that then destroy the relationships about us with our fear, anger and anxiety.

Or we can offer it up to God, take it one day at a time, assume He is in charge despite the mess and grow as people. Men develop the masculine strength to bear the burden and “slay the terror” and be the emotional rock upon which others can depend on, and women can see this as a time to become even more nurturing and caring in order to assist others around them to maintain a sense of peace and stability.

It is not easy accomplishing this, it takes time and perseverance. And a refusal to reject suffering. Perseverance will help you also later in life on your deathbed.

Faith can help keep your wits about you when all others are losing theirs.

Matthew 6:19-21,24-27: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

“No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”

You cannot ignore these problems. Like I said in the “Just Enough” post, “It does NOT mean that you pray for something and “BOING!” you get it.” You have to work for it, plan for it. But you have a partner, and that is God. He works in partnership with us, and with others. We do not know everything that is going on. A solution to your time of troubles could be developing as you read this and suddenly present itself.

Philippians 4:6-7: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

I think in the context of this post that “the peace… that surpasses all understanding” is what keeps you faith strong and your wits about you.

You are not alone:

1 Peter 5:7-10: “Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you. Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ (Jesus) will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.”

You suffer, and will recover. You will get through it. Somehow. Any alcoholic and addict reading this should understand.

Be “steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.”

May the peace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you all.

All Scripture quotes courtesy: USCCB.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

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