My most profound and intimate experiences of worship have been in my darkest days ( I’ve lived through a few!) — when I’ve lost someone dear to me, when I’ve felt abandoned and isolated, when I’ve been out of options, when the pain is great, and I turn to God alone. It is during suffering that I have learned to pray my most authentic, heart-felt, honest-to-God prayers. When in pain, superficial prayers seem pointless. At these times of great distress the need to be near the Eucharist, to receive our Lord to be united with Him is overwhelming and urgent. I know He is always there, He will never desert me, He is constant. Reliable.
I have learned that in suffering I get to know Jesus and inch towards the understanding of why His message of Salvation and Forgiveness is so powerful. I have learned things about God in suffering that I don’t think I would’ve learned about Him lying in a bed of roses. It has been at those times of fear and seeking that I ‘ve come to realise my powerlessness and the reassurance of kneeling in the presence of God’s Might.
God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a slimy pit, kept Paul from being shipwrecked three times, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace, but he didn’t. He let those problems happen, and each of those people were drawn closer to God as a result.
Problems force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves. Paul testified to this benefit: “We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us ….” (2 Corinthians 1:9) You’ll never know that God is all you need until God is all you’ve got.
Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I retreat to my ‘sanctuary’, pray to God to feel safe and calm before I’m able to relaunch into the world. God is my querencia-the place in the bullring to which a bull can safely retreat from the matadors-where I can pause and gather strength before returning to the fight. I must pause, however briefly, to regain the strength needed to battle the stresses of daily living.