As we grapple with these challenging times

“Let’s deal with them, struggle with them, remain hopeful for each other and the whole humanity, and trust in the mighty power of God over our lives and the universe.”

WE can spend many years of studies, read many books, travel to many places, hear from both the simple and the learned people, and learn lessons from the experiences of life. Still, we can’t have all the answers to many existential questions.

We may have unwavering faith in God, but we still grapple with many mysteries of life and faith, such as suffering, sickness, death, and eternal life. Take, for example, our quandaries on our experiences of crisis and tragedies in this era—wars, terrorism, mass shootings, firestorms, earthquakes, tsunamis, and now the coronavirus pandemic. What do we make out of them?

As we grow older, we continue to confront many questions and complexities, and we can never have absolute certainties about many issues affecting us. No generation will ever have all the answers to life’s struggles. No science and technology will ever bring satisfaction to our queries. It’s because our minds are limited. All that we can do I s to succumb to uncertainties and surrender ourselves to God’s mysterious ways.
The absolute truth in life is that everything will end. We cannot know the day nor the hour, but this world will come to an end too. As the Gospel this Sunday (Mark 13:24-32) states, the time will come when the sun will darken, the moon will stop shining, and the stars will fall from the sky.

With this realization, should we stop living passionately, loving generosity, exploring, and studying life and the world? I don’t think so. For the purpose and meaning of life is to give our personal lives away for the glory of God. It is no wonder that Jesus Christ said that it is in losing one’s life that we gain it. And the highest wisdom that we can learn from our earthly journey is that a life spent in service and love is what matters most!

And so, what shall we do with our continuous wrestling with the questions and mysteries of life? Let’s deal with them, struggle with them, remain hopeful for each other and the whole humanity, and trust in the mighty power of God over our lives and the universe. As Jesus says in the Gospel, “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place, but my words will not pass away.”

The key then to accepting and surrendering to life’s pains and mysteries is faith in God’s Word, which he spoke to us in Jesus Christ. God’s words declare that we matter, and we belong to Him!

In God and his Word, we experience peace more durable than all sufferings of this world. Moreover, we feel His presence in prayer, in sincere dialogue with others, in silence, in our interaction with nature, in reading a luminous and profound passage. His words fill us with passion and strength. His words, “I am with you until the end of time…” (Matthew 28:20) echo within all that we are and experience.

C.S. Lewis sheds light on God’s wisdom: “God whispers to us in our pleasures; speaks in our consciences but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world…”

Pope Francis encourages us also with words grounded in the Scriptures: “Do not fear time; nothing is eternal. Do not fear wounds; they make you strong. Do not be afraid to cry; it cleans the soul. Do not fear challenges; they make you agile. Do not fear making mistakes; they make you wise. Do not fear loneliness; God is always with you.”

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.

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