October 16, 2009

The Joyful Catholic / Rick Hermann

In all of life’s hardship, search for God’s love

Rick HermannRonald Reagan’s favorite joke featured a little boy whose parents worried that their son was just too optimistic. So they took him to a psychiatrist.

Trying to dampen the boy’s spirits, the psychiatrist showed him into a room piled high with nothing but horse manure.

The little boy jumped on top of the pile and began gleefully digging with his bare hands.

“What are you doing?” the psychiatrist asked.

“With all this manure,” the little boy exclaimed, “there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

Like this little boy, we too are called to choose how we will respond to life’s misfortunes.

Everyone experiences rejection, disappointment, failure and heartache. It is easy to become negative, to see the cup half empty, instead of half full. But if we have faith, which is a gift, we find hope and seek God’s love.

Throughout Scripture, our Creator promises us that he seeks our best. Isn’t that wonderful? He cares about us so much. If you seek out the best in all things, including your sorrows and misfortunes, you are seeking his way.

God always transforms all of our hardships into blessings because he wants us to come to him. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28).

God always makes everything turn out for the best.

Your distress today may be serious, a lost job, accident, injury or a health scare. You may be suffering from a betrayal, an addiction, a marriage crisis or financial failure.

Be optimistic and lean on God. Expect a good outcome. Start digging.

Ready to try it now? Whatever is causing you pain or suffering today, instead of wallowing in fear or misery, think how it can become a blessing.

Sick or injured? I’ll catch up on prayer and reading. Lost my job? I’m liberated to find a better job. Difficult relationship? I’ll become more loving. Family member causing trouble? I’ll learn more forgiveness.

You try it. You may make up an impossibly far-fetched outcome. Like a writer who rescues his hero or heroine from certain death, you may choose any happy ending you wish. Write it down or say it out loud.

That is fine, you say, but what about catastrophic events? What if we are plunged into total darkness and shaken to the core? We may feel overwhelmed by permanent loss of health or chronic pain. We may be stripped of our ability to imagine a good outcome to a failed marriage or the death of a loved one.

When we no longer have strength in ourselves, we must turn to God as our only hope. Like Jesus on the cross, we may surrender ourselves completely into God’s hands. It is precisely at this moment that we find God. In our most extreme suffering, we find God is our pony.

Whatever your hardship today, no matter how discouraged you feel, rejoice in knowing that God is using your suffering right now in your favor. You may not be able to see how he is doing it. Just believe his promise that he is redeeming your situation in hidden and marvelous ways.

You may pray, “Thank you for my cross, Jesus. Now show me the way.”

Believe the words, enter into the words, and live your faith with all your mind, body and soul. When you do this, you become like Jesus, a living embodiment of the word of our Lord. You are alive in Christ, sharing his joyful destiny.

So the next time life buries you with problems, think to yourself, “There must be a pony in here somewhere!” and start digging.

You may not find the pony you expect, but you will certainly find God.

(Rick Hermann of St. Louis is a Catholic author and career coach. His e-mail address is RH222@sbcglobal.net.)

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