I loved this past Sunday’s Catholic Mass readings! They contain many angles of Wisdom but I especially tuned into the parts that speak to those of us who struggle with anxiety and doubt in God’s plan in our lives.
Like I shared at CatholicMom.com this week, I struggle with accepting the trials God allows me to go through and often fail to see the gifts through the challenges.
In the first reading from Genesis, the Lord shares with Abraham that Sarah, who is “advanced in years, and… had stopped having her menstrual periods” and was barren, would have a son!
Sarah didn’t believe this could really happen for her. In fact, she laughed at such an impossible prophesy. But the Lord, offended at her incredulity, asks,
Sarah, like a true daughter of Eve, lies and denies her laugh but the Lord, being the all knowing Father, answers back – and I love this line –
Ha! Sounds like a conversation I’d have with one of my own willful children.
(As a side note, I also love the irony the USCCB notes that her laughter prefigures the name of her future son, Isaac.)
It’s been said (and said and said), “The best way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans.”
But how often do I also laugh at His plans in my life? How often does He try to show me a better way and I laugh in disbelief or naive arrogance? How often do I doubt – or don’t even notice – the “marvelous” ways He works in my life?
In a way, today’s first reading can also be very aggravating if we have yearned for something and feel like God is not listening. Sarah received what she’d been wanting (a few years too late in her opinion) after she had long since stopped hoping.
What about those of us who, like Sarah, yearn and PRAY for something but never receive any special visitors from the Lord telling us we’ll finally get it?
In our hearts we might know that t he Lord has other plans for us, “ plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future “, plans that He knows are good for us, and that we should just trust Him.
But our minds remain anxious and restless when we cannot understand His ways or feel like He’s not listening…or maybe not even there…
When we stop trusting God, or when we’re left feeling abandoned by Him, w e fill our lives with things or busy work to try and fill the gap or obstinately try to force our plans. We become resentful and obsessed. We stop praying, we stop listening, we stop hoping.
In Sunday’s Gospel , Martha i s consumed by her work to the point that she seems to forget why, and for Whom, she’s doing it. While her sister, Mary, on the other hand, “… sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.”
The Laudate App (my favorite app) had a great reflection on Sunday’s Gospel shared by Don Schwager and Presentation Ministries. Don reminds us that –
Anxiety and preoccupation keep us from listening and from giving the Lord our undivided attention. The Lord bids us to give him our concerns and anxieties because he is trustworthy and able to meet any need we have. His grace frees us from needless concerns and preoccupation.
So what do we do when things aren’t going our way or we are confused by how God is working in our lives?
I LOVE this point made in the Presentation Ministries reflection:
Some people say they are like Martha; others say they are like Mary. However, the Lord is not calling us to be Martha or Mary, but Martha and Mary.
We are called to be like Martha and continue living and going about our days but we are also called to be like Mary and unite our days with prayer by making time to intentionally seek Christ’s Presence in our lives.
We give our anxieties to the Lord when we open our hearts to him and allow Him to enter us and heal our pains.
We can find hope and peace again in any situation when we humbly pray,
Lord, I have no idea what I’m doing here or how to live with this. I give it to you. Guide me, lead me. Heal me.
(I used my WordPress mobile app to write this whole post so forgive any funky formatting!)