Friday, June 10, 2011

Holy Hope

“Let your life be…content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never forsake you or abandon you.’” Hebrews 13: 5

The third gift of the Holy Spirit that we receive in Baptism and Confirmation is the gift of Understanding. This special gift protects us in two ways, one general and one specific. First, it helps us to understand that God loves us unconditionally. What does this mean? It means that He cannot love us more when we do good or less when we do bad. He loves us perfectly all the time. It doesn’t mean He is pleased when we sin, but God does not love us any less when we do. Why is this important for our lives? It protects us from the lies of Satan.

Let’s face it, when we have sinned, Satan is at his greatest level of influence with us. We commit the sin and get knocked down and he is not satisfied is he? No. At this very moment, when we are broken and distant from God through our own choice, he lurks around us and whispers lies into our souls and hearts. Lies like: God couldn’t love you. You’re not good enough. Just give up, you’ll never be holy. Don’t show your miserable face around Church you hypocrite. Sound familiar? But when we have an understanding of God’s unconditional love for us, we realize that in these dark times, in these moments of weakness, that God has not abandoned us, we have abandoned Him. More importantly, we understand that no matter we have done, He will take us back.

The second way this gift protects us is more specific. The tough reality of life is that no matter how we try to avoid it or prevent it, tragedy strikes. People lose their jobs, friends backstab us; relatives get sick; children die. We cannot avoid suffering. The problem is that when you have made a decision to love and follow Christ, there are only two reactions we can have in the face of tragedy. On the one hand we can either fall more deeply into the arms of Jesus, or we can blame God for our problems. And in these most difficult moments of life I think it is very easy to choose the later and blame God and become angry with Him. From there we run the risk of becoming more distant from Him.

While the gift of understanding might not help us understand why the bad thing happened, it offers us Holy Hope. It helps us to realize that God did not will or cause the suffering in our lives. It helps us to realize that He is right there with us, crying with us, holding us, down in the mess and the grief and the sorrow with us. It helps us to know that despite our feelings or the circumstances, He is THERE! This gift is like a bridge over the chasm of despair, as Jesus carries us to the other side of our sorrow.  So whether we are in sin or a time of suffering, this gift offers us protection from despair and destruction in the arms of Jesus.

Dear Jesus, thank You for always being with me and for never abandoning me. Help me to understand Your unconditional love and to recognize Your presence with me in times of suffering. Amen.

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