“For people of faith there are no coincidences, only aspects of God’s providence that we have not yet fully understood.” –St. John Paul II
None of us could have expected how our lives would be radically changed, turned upside down, so quickly and so decisively as in these past weeks. Schools and restaurants closed, businesses moving entirely to working remotely, and our elderly and vulnerable in quarantine in hopes of avoiding this pandemic—it’s almost surreal to think this is actually happening. Being eight months pregnant and facing the fears of this virus affecting the pregnancy and our little girl, the fact that our families will not be able to meet her right away due to the visitor ban in hospitals, and the reality that even her first few months of life might have to be in isolation, has in itself been a special kind of cross to carry. The initial thought that I had to keep battling was, ‘It’s not supposed to be this way! This isn’t how I planned it.’ But the more I have been reflecting and asking Jesus what He desires in this time, the more I have been realizing my own overwhelming desire for control and that Jesus is chipping away at that fierce independence one day at a time. After all, most of what we think we can control is an illusion—we are entirely dependent on God for everything, even for our very life. While that might be terrifying to think about it at first, it is also deeply reassuring if we know Who He Is and have learned to trust Him, little by little.
I have been re-reading Father Jacque Philippe’s powerful little book, Searching For And Maintaining Peace, throughout this Lent with a wonderful group of ladies, and I have been struck by the importance of contemplative prayer for true and abiding peace. Father Jacques says,
“One can never insist enough on the necessity of quiet, meditative prayer—the real source of interior peace. How can one abandon oneself to God and have confidence in Him if one only knows Him from a distance, by hearsay?… The heart does not awaken to confidence until it awakens to love; we need to feel the gentleness and the tenderness of the Heart of Jesus. This cannot be obtained except by the habit of meditative prayer, by this tender repose in God which is contemplative.” (p. 35)
This quote really made me think, What is my attitude during this time of disruption, inconvenience, and fear? Am I spending enough time resting in the presence of my Father, allowing Him to speak into the deepest parts of my heart and bring His peace where there is restlessness and doubt? It can be so easy to either ignore what is going on around us or, on the other extreme, become so caught up in it that we forget that God is still present, still good, and still in control. It is when we choose to let go of our desire for control and surrender to His plans that we can see beauty come forth even in the difficulties, fears, and ‘what ifs’.
Let’s spend more time resting in the Word in these weeks, asking God to remind us of His faithfulness in the past both in the Scriptures and in our own lives. When we remember His past faithfulness, it helps us to hold on to the truth that our unchanging God is still just as faithful and will never let us down. Let’s hold on to that truth as the anchor in these storms, not allowing ourselves to try to take control. I am praying for each of you, especially for those with family members in health care, small business owners and employees wondering if they will have jobs when this is all over, high school seniors who will have to miss big milestone moments, couples having to reschedule their weddings, elderly who are isolated from their families, those worried about loved ones with compromised immune systems, and everyone in difficult situations right now. Let us lift each other up in prayer and pray boldly that God would strengthen our faith in incredible and unforeseen ways throughout this certainly unexpected Lent. Already I have seen so many beautiful things come out of these difficult days, and I pray that God will continue to open my eyes to those blessings! Even though our lives have been disrupted, our God is the God of the unexpected and He will surprise us with His love— if we let go and let Him lead.