“Why Everything Does Not Happen for a Reason”

An excellent article by John Pavlovitz:

“Why Everything Does Not Happen for a Reason”

That phrase.

We’ve all received it personally gift-wrapped by well-meaning friends, caring loved ones, and kind strangers. It usually comes delivered with the most beautiful of intentions; a buffer of hope raised in the face of the unimaginably painful things we sometimes experience in this life.

It’s a close, desperate lifeline thrown out to us when all other words fail:

Everything happens for a reason.

I’ve never had a tremendous amount of peace with the sentiment. I think it gives the terrible stuff too much power, too much poetry; as if there must be nobility and purpose within the brutal devastation we may find ourselves sitting in. In our profound distress, this idea forces us to run down dark, twisted rabbit trails, looking for the specific part of The Greater Plan that this suffering all fits into.

Read the rest here.

Coming to the end of ourselves

Jerry Sitter, in his outstanding book on loss, A Grace Disguised, writes about the sudden loss of his wife, his daughter, and his mother, all in one tragic car accident.  We all suffer loss and Jerry writes so well about what is common to all of us in our losses.  Here is one sampling:

Loss forces us to see the dominant role our environment plays in determining our happiness.  Loss strips us of the props we rely on for our well-being.  It knocks us off our feet and puts us on our backs.  In the experience of loss, we come to the end of ourselves.

But in coming to the end of ourselves, we can also come to the beginning of a vital relationship with God.  Our failures can lead us to grace and to a profound spiritual awakening.  This process occurs frequently with those who suffer loss.  It often begin when we face our own weaknesses and realize how much we take favorable circumstances for granted.  When loss deprives us of those circumstances, our anger, depression, and ingratitude expose the true state of our souls, showing us how small we really are.  We see that our identity is largely external, not internal.

Finally, we reach the point where we begin to search for a new life, one that depends less on circumstances and more on the depth of our souls.  That, in turn, opens us to new ideas and perspectives, including spiritual ones.  We feel the need for something beyond ourselves, and it begins to dawn o nus that reality may be more than we once thought it to be.  We begin to perceive hints of the divine, and our longing grows.  To our shock and bewilderment, we discover that there is a Being in the universe who, despite our brokenness and sin, loves us fiercely.  In coming to the end ourselves, we have come to the beginning of our true and deepest selves.  We have found the One whose love gives shape to our being.

Praying for you, that through whatever loss you are experiencing right now, that you might know the fierce love of God for you.

Yet the star of hope has risen

2009-10-03-the-morning-star-paradox“Christ descended into ‘Hell’ and is therefore close to those cast into it, transforming their darkness into light.  Suffering and torment is still terrible and well-nigh unbearable.  Yet the star of hope has risen–the anchor of the heart reaches the very throne of God.  Instead of evil becoming unleashed within man, the light shines victorious: suffering–without   ceasing to be suffering–becomes, despite everything, a hymn of praise.”  (Benedict XI, Spes Salvi)

Now all creation rejoices

Do you not know what holy day this is?483662_450760328326093_1835904721_n
No? Then whence come you?
Among what heathen have you dwelt,
not to know that today
is the supremely holy Good Friday?
Lay down your weapons!
Do not offend the Lord, who today,
bereft of all arms, offered His holy blood
to redeem the sinful world!

It is the tears of repentant sinners
That today with holy dew
besprinkle field and meadow:
thus they make them flourish.
Now all creation rejoices
at the Savior’s sign of love
and dedicates to Him its prayer.

Richard Wagner, Parsifal

And this is our hope

Agony

In the hour of darkness the moon had hid her face,
And all the world was sleeping, save one who wept.
He left the meager comfort of well-meaning friends,
Charging them, Watch; and into the garden crept,

And heard the lie of the world;
That the darkness here is a fell and final thing:
And flesh will crumble for aye in the valley of bones,
And tongues that are parched will never find voice to sing.

And this is our hope: that he whose sweat was blood,
As the heavy droplets fell and his spirits sank,
Lifted his eyes and murmured Thy will be done;
Lifted cracked lips to the Father’s cup; and drank.

~Joseph Prever

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The courage and strength to press on

Today is the Triumph of the Cross.  May this from Blessed John Paul II encourage all of you:

The Way of the Cross . . . invites all of us, and families in particular, to contemplate Christ crucified in order to have the force to overcome difficulties.  The cross of Christ is the supreme sign of God’s love for every man and woman, the superabundant response to every person’s need for love.  At times of trouble, when our families have to face pain and adversity, let us look to Christ’s cross.  There we can find the courage and strength to press on . . . .

In times of trial and tribulation, we are not alone; the family is not alone.  Jesus is present with his love, he sustains them by his grace and grants the strength needed to carry on, to make sacrifices and to overcome every obstacle.  And it is to this love of Christ that we must turn when human turmoil and difficulties threaten the unity of our lives and our families.

Did you catch this sentence: ” The cross of Christ is the supreme sign of God’s love for every man and woman, the superabundant response to every person’s need for love.”  Remember that His cross will triumph in your life as you turn to Him for help.

Those thorns on Thy brow . . .

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;250px-Claude_Mellan_-_Face_of_Christ_-_WGA14764
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

William R. Featherstone

To hear it sung, you can go here.

“An unparalyzed faith”

This is such an astounding story–a great one for the Year of Faith:

On July 3, Robert Shelby wanted to show one of his children how to avoid belly-flops when diving. When Shelby demonstrated at a neighbor’s pool, he slammed his head on the bottom.

He tried to swim. He couldn’t.

“None of my body is moving,” he said. “So, I go through my feet, my toes, my legs and knees, go through my arms. I’m trying every single part of my body that I thought might get me there, tried dog paddling, but I’m absolutely paralyzed. There’s nothing moving.”

He could hear his children playing, apparently oblivious to his plight. Holding his breath, he realized they might not notice until it was too late, and he would drown.

About 10 years earlier, Shelby had become a Christian. In addition to his full-time job in industrial sales, Shelby is a pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. Suspended between the surface and the bottom of the pool, Shelby pondered how to handle his last moments on Earth.

“I prayed just a moment about it, and what came to me was that (since) I praised God for the last 10 years of my life, I should praise him now,” Shelby said. “So, I began praising him for his grace, for saving me, sending his son, those type things, praising him for the privilege of raising up a family and ministering to people. I prayed that he would watch over my family and provide for them.”

As he prayed, Shelby blacked out. When he regained consciousness, his life was radically altered.

You can read the rest here: “An Unparalyzed Faith”