“There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already born for us, and does not now bear with us.” ~St. John Paul II
This is the quote I meditated on before bed last night, along with my life verse, Philippians 4:13. I started writing a blog post for today explaining why this verse from scripture (Phil 4:13) is my “life verse” and then I ended up having to “live it” again yesterday. Do you ever get tired? Completely run down, beaten and unable to function? We all do from time to time. Do you ever ask God, “When will it all end?” Or, like me, do you ask God, “Seriously? I tell you that I need peace and that I need a break and you let THIS happen?”
I am so there, y’all. I’m ready for Pina Coladas at an island paradise resort served up by a very handsome cabana boy, of course. Every time I think I have a little breathing room, BAM! Something else happens. It’s the story of our lives. We all have crosses to bear and we all suffer. No one on earth is exempt from suffering! God truly doesn’t give us more than we can handle, even though we may feel that He does from time to time! St. Teresa of Avila was once bucked off her horse and into a river on the way to visit one of her monasteries and said, “Dear Lord, if this is how you treat your friends, it is no wonder you have so few!”
We’ve all been where she was that day. Life seemed to be going well and then, Splash! What the heck, Lord? The last few years have been difficult with my husband leaving, still juggling with helping my two youngest with their rare diseases, college loans, work and just daily LIFE. When I think back about the almost 100 procedures/surgeries my two youngest have had, their hospitalizations, testing and illnesses, I can become very self-absorbed and think, “Really, God? Wasn’t that enough for one mama to bear?” Going further down the rabbit hole of self-pity, I will often think about the 19 pregnancies I lost, my childhood and long list of what I feel I have suffered in life. Don’t we all do this once in a while? Then, I will look upon one of the many crucifixes in my house and see Jesus hanging there on the cross. BOOM! Conviction! I imagine He is asking me, “Why me?” That usually shuts my mouth, at least temporarily.
Yesterday, while I was at work, my dad’s doctor called to tell me about his recent CT scan results.The doctor asked if I could explain it all to my father as he’d not been able to get in touch with him. My dad has masses on his kidney and adrenal gland. I wasn’t expecting the call, so wasn’t prepared with any questions. I didn’t even think to ask which kidney! The doctor had an oncologist look at the scan and they feel it could be cancerous. The treatment would be to remove the kidney and adrenal gland, but the doctors don’t feel my almost 88 year old father would survive the surgery. The doctor discussed the possibility the masses were old, but given that my dad has had so many tests and surgeries recently, that is unlikely. In any case, there is nothing they can do. As I drove home from work, I prayed for my dad’s salvation as he is a committed atheist. I thought, “Really, God? Really, you couldn’t wait and give me some time to enjoy life now that the biggest part of the divorce storm is over and I am starting to live life again? Seriously!!!!?
God can handle it, y’all. The agony in the garden is probably the scripture passage I identify the most with. In fact, when I moved from San Antonio in 1999, my friends gave me a small statue of the agony in the garden– Jesus praying in the garden–as a going away present. They knew how much I identified with Jesus in the garden while my two youngest were so sick and diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. I meditated on Jesus’ agony a lot during that time. It got me through those early years.
Jesus prayed three times to accept His Father’s Will and Jesus is God! Of course, we don’t have the weight of the world’s sin on our shoulders, but Jesus wept tears of blood that night and asked that His cup be taken if it was the Will of the Father. If Jesus had to pray three times, how many more times must we pray to accept God’s Will in our lives?
Jesus, like St. John Paul II reminds us, has already born any cross we carry for us and bears it with us! We are never carrying our crosses alone. Jesus Christ knows what you are suffering and understands because He suffered while he walked this earth, too. There is literally no emotion or pain that you and I feel in our humanness that Jesus didn’t feel in his human nature. How sweet it is to have a Savior who KNOWS exactly what my suffering feels like!
I went to sleep thinking, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Yes, ALL things. Not just some things, easy things or small things…..ALL things. Anything life throws at me, I can conquer because when who you are is grounded in Whose you are, you are given the grace and strength to handle it. I don’t know what tomorrow brings for me or for my dad, but I do know that no matter what happens, God will get us through it.