March 25, 2016

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

If you are feeling stressed, these words are meant for you

Debra TomaselliAs Lent unfolded, a particular Scripture passage kept coming to mind. It’s one where Jesus addresses Simon Peter, and says Satan has asked to sift him like wheat … but that’s all I could remember.

It came to mind because that’s how I feel … attacked by Satan on all sides.

I’ve been battling cancer. The chemotherapy was successful, but the road to recovery remains a struggle.

While we won the physical war, I’m fighting another battle. One I didn’t expect. It’s a spiritual conflict with frustration and fear on the front lines.

It didn’t start out this way.

Initially, I didn’t feel Satan’s assault. Rather, I felt bubble-wrapped in the love of God. I found much to be thankful for.

When the chemotherapy treatments began, I devoted time to reading my Bible and praying the rosary. I’d listen to Laudate podcasts, Scripture readings and worship music. It was like a mini-retreat.

Chemo was tough, but I was not alone. My husband remained at my side. My friends delivered meals.

Others came to pray. The days were filled with holiness.

Then the chemo ended. Weeks, indeed, months have passed. The fatigue persists. My brain feels covered by a heavyweight helmet lined with barbed wire. A good day means I can fix a light meal, throw in a load of laundry, or write a story. Not every day is a good day.

Slyly, quietly, almost without notice, my prayer life began drifting away.

I started skipping the morning readings. After all, I had all day to read them, right? Later, I’d fail to open my Bible, listen to Catholic podcasts or lift my thoughts. Before I knew it, the day was over and I’d fall into bed realizing little effort had been put into my relationship with God.

Fear gained a foothold. I worried about returning to work. I worried about my mother-in-law’s escalating respiratory issues. I worried the grandkids would outgrow me by the time I could run and play with them again.

In the midst of my fears, the Scripture verse about being sifted like wheat persisted. I was definitely being sifted.

Finally, I found the passage and read it.

In it, Christ is speaking to Simon Peter, but he may as well have been speaking directly to me. Throughout the passage, Christ’s words hit home.

The Scripture came alive. I was stunned to think that, in the midst of our trials, Christ pleads on our behalf. I was humbled by the simplicity of his prayer.

Christ addresses Simon Peter, but I’m pretty sure his words are meant for each one of us.

So, if, like me, you are being sifted like wheat, fill your own name in and listen to the words of Jesus:

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you that your faith should not completely fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up the faith of your brothers” (Lk 22:31-32).

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at

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