Do you ever feel like you have been abandoned by God? Maybe you are in a bad season of suffering, battling depression or desolation in your spiritual life. Are you wondering why your prayers are not being answered in the way or timing that you would like? I am pretty sure I do not stand alone. I admit I have been there and questioned God during those times.
God Wants You Right Where You Are
I did not understand why I was suffering or why my prayers were not answered in my way and in my time in the early stages of my journey. I heard many say, “Let go and let God,” but I didn’t really get it. Over time I realized that He wanted me to let go, to let Him answer my prayers His way. I began to see what this meant as I looked back at many things that happened to me years ago. He was teaching me how to have faith, how to detach from this world, my pride and grow in humility. I needed to stop trying to lead my life and understand my circumstances or why things were happening ‘to’ me.
Most of my life I have relied on myself and pride was a vice that was difficult for me to escape. Only about three years ago did I really see the virtue of humility begin to grow in me and His peace flourish in my soul. I went from trying to understand “why” to trusting, praising and thanking Him in all circumstances. If you ask me, this is quite a leap in my faith journey but one I have enjoyed exercising and sharing with others.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence, do not rely on; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Suffering is Sanctification
A few years into my journey I started reading a lot of spiritual books to learn about how the saints became such holy people. I seriously struggled to understand suffering. I used to think about the many people who were suffering more than I was and I couldn’t understand why God would put so much on someone. I knew people who were battling cancer, financial issues and major family problems. Thank God, these were things that I was blessed not to suffer from. Then I started to worry when the other shoe would drop and I would take on some unfathomable suffering.
It’s sufficient to say that I wasn’t fond of suffering. It wasn’t until years later I realized that suffering was a way in which we were being sanctified and becoming holier. I not only knew this in my heart, but I was living this in my life. I am willing to suffer. I do not think I am like the saints and ask for suffering yet. However, when I am challenged with anxiety, worry, and attachment to things of this world, I enjoy handling this with God.
I now see trials as a way for me to exercise my humility. When they come, I immediately stop and offer them to God. I often think they come from Satan so I pray my prayers of deliverance, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I renounce the spirit of anxiety, worry, fear, etc.” I then pray to be protected, “Jesus, Mary, Joseph, my guardian angel and St. Maria Goretti – protect me.” And one more, “Jesus, pour your precious blood over me and protect me. Mary, please wrap me in your loving mantle.” And I then ask the Father to fill me with blessings and grace. This is what I do when I am being tempted as well, which for some is more daunting than a particular circumstance in one’s life. Sometimes it takes multiple repetitions of the above to find the peace and the spirit of harassment to go away. Be persistent, it will come.
Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).
Dreams and Desires – Aligning with God
If you are like me – you have plans, desires and goals. It is okay to have goals in your life as long as you align them with God’s plans. You can pray for your dreams. I have prayed a 54 Day Novena a few times for my own petitions or for the conversion of my husband. (That prayer hasn’t been answered yet.) The only difference in how I pray now is I end with, “Only if it is your will, God. Your timing is perfect.”
But we sometimes forget about aligning our goals with God’s plans. This happened to me recently. I am in the middle of writing my second book and I had a goal of finishing it by the end of this month. I must pray my way through writing it because it is a pretty emotional book that shares my horrid past and the amazing graces and transformations on my journey. I know I am healing through writing it and I need to be sure that Mary and the Holy Spirit are guiding my every word. I pray this might help heal others who are lost, without God in their lives, on the road to destruction like I was.
God doesn’t want it done at the end of the month because quite a few things have happened to me recently that need to be included in the book. If I stayed in my plan, it would not be God’s work. I am grateful that I am able to offer up my feelings of “Martha” and being productive while I embrace “Mary” and sit at the feet of Jesus. It is the only way this book will truly be His and not mine.
I am right where God wants me to be. I am grateful for what He has taught me through my afflictions, to never give up and rely only on Him. I have peace that I have never had in my life before when I live with Him and surrender to His will. I wish it was a pill that I could hand out to everyone, but I can’t. You can have it, too, you just need to practice trusting and letting go of your pains and trials to God.
Ask Him to give you eyes to see the sanctification in your sufferings and trials. Ask Him to show you the strides you have made in your spiritual life when you trust in Him and the peace and joy that ensues.
Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5).
Let’s remember to thank and praise God in everything – doing that shows sincere trust and faith in Him. Let’s also pray for the intercession of the saints to help us be more like they were and to be sanctified through our trials and see the joy in our sufferings. As Saint Teresa of Avila says,
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away: God never changes.
Patience obtains all things,
Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.