By the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P.
Most of us at one time or another are tempted to discouragement. The spiritual combat gets too tough and we’d like to call it quits. It seems so hard to keep on trying-especially when we don’t seem to be going anywhere. Or when just about everything seems to be
going against us.
It may help to know that the saints had the same struggle. At times they had to grind out their acts of faith, hope and charity through clenched teeth. Don’t think they were swept along without effort. They waged an uphill battle against discouragement, failure
and despair. They became a saint not by never failing, but by refusing to give in to their falls.
At times the saints even experienced a repugnance for the things of God. They didn’t deny this condition, but rather faced up to it. Our Lord never said to deny that a cross exists, or even to say that it didn’t hurt. He told us to “take it up.” And to do it daily.
Maybe you feel spiritually “beat.” Everything seems just too hard. You don’t feel like praying. You feel the need for God, but He seems beyond hope and charity-and just about everything else! This can be a greater mortification than some of the bodily
austerities of the saints.
Be assured-you may be much closer to God than you think. It’s not thinking of God that is the most important. Nor the feeling that He is near. Or even wanting to pray. It’s just trying to pray. And wanting Him-even when you think you’ve lost God. God permits
this rough going, because we hang onto Him more fiercely at a time like this.
Don’t say to yourself: “It’s no use. I just don’t have what it takes.” Of course, you haven’t! But none of us have. God is a merciful supplier who will supply just what is needed when you need His help. Don’t sit back and hang your head in discouragement. Lift up your heart and approach Him exposing your need like a begging child.
I think that the trouble often is not so much lack of courage as lack of correct vision. We haven’t lost our backbone-but we’re just looking in the wrong way. We are looking too much at ourselves and not enough at God. He told us that “to those that love God ALL things work unto good.” Not “some” things or “most” things. He excluded absolutely nothing!
Really, what is there to be discouraged about? Past mistakes, no matter how serious, are erased by the merciful forgiveness of God. Possible future troubles haven’t even arrived. Spiritual success, at least, is available. Happiness can be yours for the asking-if you are willing to set your heart on the right things.
Discouragement can be the sign that we have trusted too much in our own abilities and not enough in God’s. Or that we are taking ourselves too seriously. Or perhaps overemphasizing our importance in the scheme of things. Or it could be that we want things that aren’t good for us and God simply refuses to let us have them. If He shakes us up it’s only because He wants us to find Him more perfectly.
So, don’t be discouraged over your failures-or anything else. Whatever the cause of discouragement, lift up your eyes and your heart. Your eyes to make you see that there’s never an excuse for self pity, for one who is loved by a God of love.
Your heart to make you realize that you shouldn’t feel sorry for yourself as long as you are an object of His tender concern. Our need is the perfect invitation for God to take over in our lives. Let us not be afraid to ask Him to do so!
With thanks to www.cukierski.net