Readings for today: Acts 2:14, 22-28; 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35
You will fill me with joy in your presence.
Today’s reflection is extra special because today is also my 21st birthday! While it is still quite a young age, I am very thankful for the journey that I have had so far and all the experiences that I have had. Though much of it was difficult and tiring, there has been so much joy that has come from the suffering.
This is something that I definitely would not have imagined myself saying in the moment. Many times when I run into tough issues or situations that are difficult, I would find myself lacking in faith, which would subsequently rob me of my joy. But at the time, and even sometimes to this day, anger and distress would be my coping mechanism when I didn’t understand. I lacked faith and understanding in God’s plans.
It takes a lot to fully surrender ourselves and our great plans to the Lord. As humans we have big dreams and desires to do great things. We put our faith in Jesus to help us achieve those goals. But in true human likeness, I measured His love for me against getting what I wanted, rather than surrendering myself to do His will.
When it came to anything – a test, receiving an important task, or a relationship, my prayer was always one that was self-centered: Hey God, I didn’t study very much, but can you help me get an A? Hey God, can you make this boy like me, or help me to get this job over this other person?
But if I ended up getting less than an A, or losing the job, or the boy likes someone else, I would take that as a sign that God did not love me. At the time I despised this! What good was my prayer and my faith if it wasn’t yielding the results that I wanted?
This was my downfall – it’s not what I want, but what He wants.
The apostles and all the Jews put massive amounts of hope and faith in Jesus while He was alive. He performed miracles and was a genius – of course He was the Messiah! But He didn’t save the world in the most conventional way, and many turned away when He was left to be crucified. All of Jesus’ friends couldn’t understand how this would ultimately save the world.
And yet, He did.
Our faith and hope should be in God. We might not always understand the paths that God takes us down, and sometimes those paths are not ideal. This is an infuriating to say – I personally found this infuriating – but ultimately these paths that God gives us are for our wellbeing (Jeremiah 29:11).
I struggle with this still, but I am trying to remember everyday that our faith is the ultimate driver of our happiness. With God, all things are possible.
On my 21st birthday, St. Clare of Assisi (the saint that inspired my middle name), pray for us!