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Catholic Spiritual Direction

Why am I in this terrible storm?

October 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Fr. Bartunek, Suffering

Dear Father John, since receiving “The Better Part”, I have set aside a time every morning and have read and meditated on the meditation units.  However, while I am receiving much help in my spiritual life, everything else in my life is falling apart.  I have gotten very ill, have had to have many tests, incurring many expenses to the point where at this time, I am literally without anything material and/or necessary in my life.  Other terrible things have been happening to me also including thoughts of despair and despondency.  Is this supposed to happen to a person when they try and focus on Jesus as the main and most important part of their lives?  Or is it just a coincidence?  I am afraid that perhaps the devil is trying to sabotage me. Do you have any insight into this situation?

I am afraid I can’t supply an easy answer to this question.  We will never know whether these challenges and sufferings would have confronted you if you had not begun to go deeper in your prayer life.  We just don’t know, and we can’t know (barring a special revelation from our Lord).  Spending too much time trying to find an answer to that question, therefore, is most likely not what the Holy Spirit is asking of you.

The reality is that you are in the midst of a terrible storm, and you can’t see any clear skies on the horizon.  Where did this storm come from?  What can you do about it?  I will share some thoughts in response to those questions, that you may or may not find helpful.  But I will also pray for you, and I am certain that will help.

Where Did This Storm Come From?

It is certainly possible that the storm is being stirred up directly by the enemy of your soul.  He may be trying throw a wrench into your new spiritual activities because he can tell that God’s grace is beginning to work powerfully in your soul.  St. John Vianney, the Curè of Ars, used to experience this.  He was a famous confessor, and often when great sinners were on their way to go to confession with him, he would experience particularly intense, even physical and life-threatening, attacks from the devil.  After a while, he figured it out.  And when these attacks would come, he would endure them largely by looking forward to the victory of God’s grace that he knew would come in the confessional in the next day or two.
It is also possible that the storm has natural, instead of supernatural, causes.  The tough times we are living through, combined with our fallen human nature and, perhaps, the influence of past circumstances or actions, can often come together to create “perfect storms” in our spiritual life.

A third possibility also exists.  It could be a combination of natural and supernatural causes – the devil exacerbating natural challenges, wanting you to abandon your spiritual efforts and your trust in God through discouragement, resentment, or even simply through distractions.  I would say that the thoughts of despair and despondency have their origin here.  It is natural to have those feelings in such a trying situation, like yours.  Sometimes the only way we can combat these temptations is by turning those very thoughts, as negative and oppressive as they are, into prayers.  This is what the Psalmist does many times throughout the Book of Psalms, and it is what Jesus himself did in the midst of his storm, on the Cross.  You may want to dip into the Book of Psalms to help strengthen your soul against these temptations.  Read prayerfully, for example, Psalm 22 and Psalm 23.

Whatever the cause, however, one thing we know for certain: God is permitting the storm.  Just as he did with the Apostles in Mark 4:35-41 and Matthew 14:22-33.  Just as he has done so many times in the history of the Church.  Just as he has done so many times in the lives of his followers, even in the lives of his greatest saints.

Is There Anything You Can Do about It?

And so the most important question becomes, how should you react?  On a natural level, you should certainly seek to use all the human remedies that may be available to help end the storm, including asking for help from others, if that is a possibility.  On a supernatural level, you should continue to pray, seeking to know and love God better, and seeking to learn from the example of the Lord how to weather storms.  I would suggest meditating on the passages in the four Gospels that narrate Jesus’ Passion and Death.  You can also find strength in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist – through visits to the Blessed Sacrament, adoration, and frequent Communion, for example.  You will also find comfort and light in the sacrament of Confession.

The Rosary may help you in a particularly powerful way.  October is the month of the Rosary for the whole Church, and Our Lady’s presence and intercession are some of our most valuable and necessary anchors and protection in life’s terrible storms.  If your parish has small groups that meet for prayer or the Rosary, I would also highly recommend trying to plug into those.  We are not meant to carry our crosses alone.  Though we can’t explain to everyone all the sufferings of our soul, just being with others who share our faith and gathering in God’s name are sources of renewal.

The most important thing to remember is that God is with you.  He is within you.  He is accompanying you.  He is at your side and upholding you.  He has not forgotten about you.  He still has a plan and beautiful hopes for you.  He knows what he is about, and he will never allow you be to tested beyond your power to endure: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  He wants us to learn to let him alone be our shelter and our refuge, to learn to pray from the depths of our hearts what King David prayed during his storms: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

You can be assured that I will pray for you, and that many of our readers will also pray for you.  I would like to invite them to comment, if they wish, sharing their own experiences of God’s faithfulness.  “The world will give you trouble,” our Lord assured us, “but take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". He has also published four other titles: "Seeking First the Kingdom", "Answers: Catholic Advice for Your Spiritual Questions", "Meditations for Mothers", and "A Guide to Christian Meditation". Fr. John currently splits his time between Rome and Rhode Island, where he teaches theology as an adjunct professor at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and at Mater Ecclesia College. He is also continuing his writing apostolate with online retreats at www.RCSpirituality.org and questions and answers on the spiritual life at www.RCSpiritualDirection.com. FATHER JOHN'S BOOKS include: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer", "Inside the Passion"--The Only Authorized Insiders View of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, "Meditations for Mothers", and "A Guide to Christian Meditation".

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  • joan

    My spiritual director had me make a certain prayer commitment, particularly oriented toward rejecting anything coming between me and God, and clearly declaring my intentions to be one of God’s children.  He warned me not to be concerned if things became difficult during this time.  Within a month my husband lost his job (but 3 days later I had a good full time job –blessing), I became troubled by intense vertigo and exhaustion; there were ridiculous explosive arguments between people around me that threatened the cohesiveness of my family.  These people never behaved this way before or after this time – it was truly bizarre!  Less than 4 months later my spiritual director, a young man, died unexpectedly in another country from an unknown illness.  The list goes on and on and I’ve forgotten much of it.  Some troubles linger even though God has provided  - I still have episodes of feeling horrible with no medical explanation (except maybe exhaustion/lack of sleep … or the big mid-life change we women go through), I have a job that meets our needs but am heartbroken to be away from my children so much.  However, I see my husband bringing out parts in the kids’ personalities that I wouldn’t have been able to nurture, and I feel he is doing a better job at home than I would, even though I desire to be in his shoes.  As the post says, trying to grasp cause and effect is probably above most of us.  I do think sometimes that God holds back troubles that are headed our way until we have gotten a foothold in prayer, and then as he did in Job’s situation, he permits troubles to come to us, but only after we are clinging to him.  When my friends ask if their new-found prayer life instigated troubles (and several have asked me that), I suggest that God pulled them close to ensure their safety during the coming storm.  Keeping up a lively faith at this time can be hard!  I remember on the way to mass one morning complaining to God about all my troubles, I was very upset, and I pulled up behind a car with a bumper sticker that said “Get in, sit down, shut up and hang on!”  I took that as my answer from Him. : )

  • Teresa

    When I first returned to the Church after many years away, I experienced something similar. My life fell apart during my first year back. There was one disaster after another and it seemed as if there would be no end to it. What I learned from that year was to depend on God completely and to give up my worries to Him because they were too big to handle by myself. Having always been a very independent person this was difficult for me. It didn’t happen all at once but when I finally was able to accept that God would take care of me I experienced a wonderful feeling of peace. No, He didn’t immediately solve my problems and I still had to struggle with them but I was no longer alone. I found praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet to be helpful and I visited an Adoration Chapel several times a week. Being in the Presence of our Lord brought me a great deal of peace. I survived that year and found great comfort in my newly rediscovered faith. I look back on that year now and I think that God didn’t allow those things to happen in my life until I had found Him again because He knew I would need His help to deal with them.

    • MarytheDefender

      I love your reflection that God calls us to be with Him before these trials come because He knows that we would need Him!
      I think this has been the case with me too! My prayer life and relationship with Him grew a lot just before my vocation as a lawyer (law student) began. I had difficulties from many aspects of my life but it was Him who helped deal with it all. I am certain that without Him I would have given up by now.
      The Divine Mercy Chaplet and Adoration Chapel have helped me a lot as well. Thank you for your comment it helped realize how He has been leading me.

  • Susan Groves

    As I have grown more deeply in the ‘Truth’ of who Christ is and my dependence on the ‘Blessed Trinity’ as my ‘True North’, I have learned one thing that guides my every thought.  God is love.  He can never be anything or anyone other than who he is.  He is as he acts.  He acts as he is.  Perfect Love!!!  I have acquired a saying in storms that guides my heart and moments of doubt, “Father you are Perfect Love.  You can never be anything other than what you are… and so I believe in your love for it is truth, and I can hardly wait to see how you will love me through this storm!”

  • Genevive

    I am going through a storm as well. Especially now that I am more into prayers for family members who are into new age and Islam. Thank God , He is with me.

  • Stanley Sethiadi

    I had a like wise experience, like you, in my life. When I intended to be a good Christian, from a luke warm Christian, I got many trials. When I want to come closer to God, there are so many obstacles. I prayed to God, and God listened to my complaints. There were no help from people I thought would be able to help me. Only Jesus gave me courage. Bye and bye I overcome my troubles.

  • Sandy

    All of us experience consolations, gifts from God, and desolations, those things in life that try to break us down that God allows in order to draw us closer to him.  When we take time to make an Examen of our day through St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises, we are invited to reflect on our lives.  The first step of the Examen is gratitude, giving thanks to God for all of the benefits we have received.  The second step is petition where we ask God what He wants to show us about our day.  Then we have to listen in the silence to hear His response which leads us to the third step which is to review our lives hour by hour on how we are living our day.  Following the review, we ask for forgiveness for those times when we have doubted God’s love or harmed another person because of what we have done or failed to do.  The last step of the Examen is Renewal, where we make a commitment to change our behavior in a positive way.   Father Timothy Gallagher, OMV has written a book describing each step of the Examen, The “Examen Prayer, Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today”.  The book can be ordered through Amazon.  I have found it very helpful to deepen my relationship with God.  Father Timothy has also written other books on Desolation and Consolation that are also very helpful as well.  Keep praying and remember that nobody has to travel through this life alone.  

    • Jmbroadnax

      In reviewing my day, I summarize by what am I most grateful for during the past day, and what am I most sorrowful about (my weakness or the horror that abounds in the world) – and being grateful for both, for without awareness of our weaknesses and stresses in the world, we can make no progress in working to eliminate the weaknesses so we may conform to the person God created us to be.  St. Ignatius said if you pray no other prayer during the day than the Examen, then that is sufficient.  I also journal about my prayer of Examen, so that in reading back, I can see the progress I am making in my spiritual journey.

      • Sandy

        Thank you for your response.  I have been doing the Examen and keeping a journal for the last eleven years.  It is good to see how my spiritual life has grown during this time.  I also enjoy retreats where we do the Spiritual Exercises.  I am so grateful for all of the holy people God has placed in my life to help me in my faith journey.

  • Lyonsjoan

    Teresa, I found the reflection in The Better Part by St. John Chrysostum (page 265) a remedy to keep disappointments, frustrations, and chaos from becoming terrible storms.  It helps me not to become one of the “wolves” by remembering I have a good shepherd who takes care of the sheep not the wolves. When I forget that by being caught up in the storm, I do not allow God to show his power in my life.  The bonus is that others seeing a storm brewing are more willing to assist the sheep than the wolves.

  • Thompsoncg

    God is sorting out your box of needs you presented to Him in order of priority as He knows what needs to come first ,every setback is an opportunity to rise again, you will recieve a lasting happiness the storm will soon be over,get ready for unlimited blessing,unlimited holiness,unlimitedrightousness,unlimited prosperity. GOD BLESS from Connie in SA

  • Susan

    I was very blessed to have attended a Cursillo weekend 2 years ago and the spiritual director on that weekend has since become my personal spiritual director and great friend.  Since then, I have seen my prayer life deepen significantly and God has surrounded me with a loving family and friends who bring me closer to Him.  I have recently lost my job and have been very upset because of this.  I, too, have felt despondent and depressed, and I almost want to question why God would allow this to happen as I am trying to know, love and serve Him on a deeper level.  But in truth, it has allowed me to endure my sadnesses so much better.  I, too, felt as if I was being tempted to abandon this life of grace, but I am also aware of the more serious suffering of those close to me.  I find my prayers being focused more on them, as they are praying for me and my situation.   I still feel anxiety and sorrow, but I don’t doubt the love of God in my life.  We can’t look at our problems as ‘punishment,’ since this feeds right into the devil.  But through our sorrows, we learn to trust God more completely and rely on Him.  While I am suffering, I feel lucky that my life doesn’t have the sadness that others have.  So in that regard, it has taught me to be grateful for what I do have.  I look at this as a learning experience, not a ‘test.’  God’s love for me hasn’t changed, but I hope mine for Him has grown.  Please know that I will add you to the list of ‘all my special intentions’ that I pray for every day.  May God give you His comfort, courage, peace, patience and strength.  My favorite Scripture passage is Romans 8:35-39.  Maybe it will help you as well. 

  • Denita Arnold

    I’m also experiencing some storms:  the more I pray, the more trials I have.  I have no loved ones to help me though this, and I feel all alone.  I know I should offer it up, but sometimes I wish I had a Catholic family to support and love me.  I mean I’m Catholic, but my siblings aren’t.

    • Mark

      Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of he promises of Christ.

    • Julett

      Try to find a group that you can relate to.  Do you have the Why Catholic program in your parish?  Are there no prayer, bible study or discussion groups in your parish?  By praying with people, we become close to them and find much solace in community of pray-ers.

    • Julett

      Sometimes we are unable to find a group of people to help us and comfort us on our journeys – and in those times, I think God is inviting us to rely only on Him.  A good practice is to journal in conversation with God.  Just as you greet visitors in your home, greet God when you begin your conversation.  Then share with him both your joys and your trials.  Ask him for the grace you desire.  God puts those desires in your heart – so He is already ready to offer you what you request.  Jot down any insights you have from Christ’s response.  Then close with thanking Him for any grace or insight you feel from him.  Being grateful for our joys and our trials and what they teach us helps us become aware that God is ALWAYS WITH US.

  • Mark

    I love you and will pray for you, especially for God’s grace for your despair and despondency.  May God grant you his graces of Faith, Hope and Charity.  I will pray for you to our Lady of Perpetual Help.  I am experiencing very similar thinks right now, especially feelings of overwhelming anxiety.  Please pray for me also.

  • Julett

    My 55 year old son periodically has episodes of psychotic behavior – more of a personality disorder brought on by stress.  Recently, he had another one and this time told me to get out of his life, take him out of my will and also as executor of my will and remove my motorhome from his property – preferably when he was not around.  In the past, when he has flared up at me, I have been very upset, crying and despairing.  And wait for reconciliation when I can continue to work toward having a good relationship.  But this time, after a day of grieving, I began a conversation with God of how I could stop feeling victimized and begin to feel true sorrow and compassion toward my son’s state of mind.  And I asked God to give me peace so that I would not continue to feel despair and desolation.  Late that same afternoon, I started feeling my body relax and settle into a peaceful mode.  By turning my son over to God, I was released from the burden of trying to heal my son.  It is God’s job – not mine.  My other two sons have died, so he is the only living child I have.  But I have turned him over to God, just as I released my sons who died.  Let go and let God.  I love my son, my door will always be open – but I will stop trying to force the close relationship I have desired.  If he chooses to stay away or come back in my life, it is his choice.  But I pray daily that God give him the grace to overcome his personality disorder.  There is much in his shadow side that he is unaware of – always projecting on others – suspicion and distrust.  Without God’s grace and comfort, I would have focused on my pain; instead, my focus now is on love and compassion toward my son with no expectations of receiving anything from my son, but awareness that God can be my son and I can bestow my love and affection on God – as a mother to a son.  And he will give me what I desire from my son – tenfold.  It was only recently on a 30 day Ignatian Retreat that I looked closely at my shadow side and how my life had been about choosing to be a victim.  I learned through prayer with God – to make other choices – and this was my first time to choose another way of being who God calls me to be – a loving and graced Mother.

    • JoanRuth

      Thanks for sharing your story about your relationship with your son.  I needed to be reminded I cannot fix anyone’s life.  I like your closing statement that you choose to be “who God called me to be – a loving and graced Mother.”  I am reminded “to be the loving and graced grandmother.”  Bless you!   I will remember your intentions in my prayers. 

  • Fr. Terry Kissell

    I would ask the writer to keep in mind the comforting words of a famous painter who experienced severe arthritis in his hands as an old man and needed to wrap his fingers in cloth to hold the paintbrush. He grimaced in pain the whole time he was painting and a friend asked him why he continues to paint. His response: “O, the pain passes but the beauty remains!” The Lord is with you and the pain of it all will pass and what will remain is something more beautiful than you can imagine. Persevere in prayer. The Lord will not let you down.
    Fr. Terry Kissell

  • C J Sebastian333

    It’s hard to add to such an insightful response, but I’m urged to respond as to the question itself. Sometimes, we don’t get answers, and what the Good Lord is asking of us, is to trust. For me, much of my spiritual growth stems from trust. Sometimes, we don’t get an answer… my thoughts go to the last chapter in John where Peter is asking Jesus about John, and Jesus responds: “… what is that to you?” (John 21:23). I can only add by saying that prayer without trust is not complete, and to stop praying would be doing exactly what evil would have you do. No matter what is occuring in your life, don’t stop praying. In similar times, my prayer has been to increase my trust and faith. “This too shall pass,” and it does… chin up   :)

  • ThirstforTruth

    From The Better Part, p. 251…quote from Words of Jesus, to St. Faustina:

    …..” My daughter, all your miseries have been consumed in the flame of
    My Love, like a little twig thrown into a roaring fire.”

    These are Jesus words to us all as we struggle through our daily trials. We
    can hear Him speaking to us these words of comfort all the while He is at our side.  We are never out of His Presence or removed from His Love. Stay with Him,,, in the moment… and allow Him to lead…  so that you might emerge triumphant from whatever harm that assails you.

  • Grace

    “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  How true this is! Whenever I feel like I’m about to cave in to my problems, I raise my eyes to God and ask for help. Even though it may not come immediately, I will be filled with a sense of calm and peace that I’ve prayed for. God never asks us to carry our burdens alone. Lifting them up to Him and knowing that He loves and cares for us makes the bearing of our crosses so much easier.

  • LindaZ

    On the evening of the day I returned to the church after a few years absence, I found out that my husband of 31 years had been having many affairs.  I had trusted him and felt so alone and abandoned.  Then I realized that God had called me to church that morning.  The call was insistent and would not be ignored.  My pastor feels that God knew what was about to happen and called me so he could embrace me when it did.  God was the first place I turned, then my pastor.  He listened and helped and set me on my feet and sent me right back to God and encouraged me to spend a lot of time alone with Him, deepening my relationship with Him.  
    I know now that it is God whom I must trust and that means giving over all my worries and fears to Him and trusting that He will keep me safe.  I help myself too, but I let God lead and He does.  I had many consolations and desolations in the last year as I deal with this, but when I need to, I scream to God for help, if needed, and he answers. I find that if I stay faithful to my prayer life and set my sights on Him, I have to scream for help less often.  I will pray for you and for all on here with problems.  We are lucky to have our faith and to know that God loves us.
    Jeremiah 29:11-13

  • The Anonymous Christian

    I will pray for you as you are my brother and sister in this mystical body of Christ.  Rest assured that the mystical body of Christ is praying for you.  I have been going through this battle through my whole life and I’ve realized a while a go that every time God is coming nearer in my life, or more accurately, when I’m becoming more conscious of his ever present reality, I go through some very dark moments that usually manifest themselves through the night, where I’m left with the inability to think but I feel extreme dryness, despair, and even despondence.  I am humbled by my complete weakness in such a situation.  I don’t try to understand it because I realize that I can’t do anything but put my trust in Christ.  I pray that the Lord bless you with his peace that can truly put you at ease that God is with you always, even in these moments.

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  • riffer791

     
    It could be possible that God is trialing you to strengthen your faith and trust in Him. i suggest you continue to strive for holiness, take the advice of the Blessed Mother, pray the rosary every day do the five first saturdays devotion, fast wednesdays and fridays do whatever she sais. im finding the medjugorje messages to be good advice. i used to suffer alot of spiritual afflictions, often had temptations of dispair. I looked at it as though i was like Peter walking on the water to Jesus, the waves would crash and the wind would blow, as the devil played his tricks, somtimes i would start to doubt and sink, but i would confide in God, muster up all my faith and trust reassure myself of Gods love and mercy, and before too long i would be back walking on water again. i found the whole experience has strengthened my faith. Trust and praise God no matter what!
    I found ths passage of scripture inspiring Peter 1:3-7
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the ressurection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejioce, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith- being more precious than gold that though perishable is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

  • Kenzie Le

    Could it be the other way around that God appeared just in-time & on-time when & where you so needed him?  I mean your ill health & other unhappy matters may not just happened out-of-the-blue, they’re the results of past actions…God, the almighty, seeing all that (going to happen to you) and so there you were getting love & helps from Him via “The Better Part”…your meditations…to overcome the situations.
    I’m also praying for you. God Bless

  • Kalappuracthomas

    I would like to send the copies of the articles and comments to some of my friends. Can it be arranged by you

    • Anonymous

      I can’t help you with that but you are free to send them.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RERCYQ57LFUA5Z2ZK3GUTYCIPQ Jaygee3

    As Fr. John said, spending too much time trying to find an answer why such things happen to us is not what the Holy Spirit wants us to do; it will eventually lead us to despair. I have been in a similar situation (but not as severe as what you are going thru right now), and what helped me weather the “storm” were the same practices Fr. John is recommending: unceasing prayers and the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist. Also, I started to consider suffering not as a punishment but as a means to expiate my many sins and if I offer all my sufferings to the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Mercy who knows better the souls who need such offering, I can save countless of souls in purgatory. The thought of saving just one soul will make you consider suffering  as a gift. Oh. how great is our God.  

  • gRaTeFuL

    I have been going through something very similar these past few years.   I grew up in a very religious Catholic environment which gave me this mindset that I am in and with Christ so I should be okay, and that I should be able to recognize and acknowledge sufferings and trials when they come and are a part of my life in Christ.  And not until a few years ago when the trials and sufferings became almost like raging storms that are simultaneous, constant and seemingly endless did I realize that I was wrong.  It took a lot of tearful prayers, confessions, meditations, and reflections to make me realize that I needed to experience these storms of life to help me see the real me, my values based on my own perspective versus that of God’s and the true essence of God’s love for me.  To love and cherish one’s child is to form him/her in His likeness/image.  And  I feel that with me, that equates to a LOT  of polishing (pessimism, pride, anger), chipping off of the excess (materialism), redirecting from the  worldly path that I have been treading in, etc. manifested in  these storms.  I needed the storms to be cleansed, to appreciate the calm right after, and from then on – -to learn to dance in the rain.

  • Tapine101

    God has seen me through so much turmoil, especially in college and even now, as my husband and I have experienced 2 miscarriages and are trying to have a baby. It’s very difficult to understand why He is not allowing us to have a baby right now, but we know He is in control and He has very good reasons for all this. Know that He is a very loving Father and truly only wants whats best for us. I have to constantly remind myself and my husband of this too. Keep your prayers going and know that you will be in our prayers.

  • Bridgitabita

    I can definitely empathize with this person.  When I first truly converted and said yes to the graces of God and consecrated myself to The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  I was definitely attacked on all fronts.  First I lost my job of 5 years and still not sure if I will lose my home or not.  Finally found job after a year that lasted only a month.  All of a sudden I started having tyroid issues and gained 30 pounds and since I do not have insurance, cannot go to doctor.  Protestant members of my family pretty much stay away from me now.  Sometimes my two girls seem to get enraged with me over the smallest of matters.  But in the midst of all of this, I feel the Holy Spirit guiding me and I thank God for the “break he has given me from work outside the home” as now I can go to mass daily, say rosary with a group in the church before mass.  Have become a part of a wonderful Catholic group who drink coffee and have fellowship every day after mass and we never tire speaking of our Truth and we share books and stories.  Also have joined a sodality and in formation for 3rd Order Carmelites.  Teach catechism to 1st graders and am on the finance committee at the church.
    I would recommend the Divine Office.  You can get a copy for your smart phone or buy a book entitled “shorter Christian Prayers”  which is small version, but it contains many Psalms and they do help tremendously.  I do perform the Liturgy of the Hours in the form of Lauds, Vespers & Compline.  All can be downloaded on phone (convienent and the Hymns are sung) or you can buy the entire divine office.  It also has a rotating globe that tells you how many are praying with you at that moment and even lights their location.  Its a comfort knowing your prayers are being presented before God in a world wide community.

    I could also recommend a book called “onward Catholic Warrior” by Labriola which explains all the ways evil attacks good people and the armour God give you to combat them.
    Peace of Christ be with you always (that is how you know you are fighting and winning the good fight-with his graces of course)

  • Jo Anna

    In our family of 9 we’ve been through a juvenile diabetes diagnosis on a 4 year old, heart surgery on a 10-month old 3 months after the diabetes diagnosis, the next month unemployment. Now we have our youngest (6 years old) with a cancer diagnosis.  The storms rage, but Jesus is our anchor!  He has always come through for us and He will for you, too.  Keep praying and trusting, and we will pray for you, too. 

    • Junebug1234

      Wow, JoAnna. How DO you do it? I am amazed how you feel you still can count on God! If only I had a “little” bit of your trust. What exactly do you pray to help you through all this? I am really interested in knowing just HOW you help yourself get through each moment of each day. Please let me know. I am in a similar situation. God bless you and I will be praying for your and your family.

  • Brian

    My dear friend, my prayers are with you at this time of sickness and desolation. Sit in quiet before the Lord, pray the Rosary, be still.  Don’t feel the need to use many words, if your mind is tired and you are exhausted because of your condition. Just place all your anxieties and distractions before Him. Let your eyes rest on the natural world around you and give Him thanks and praise for His magnificent creation.

    • Catholic4Truth

      Brian – I find this works for me as well. Being “quiet” is about the only remedy for my problems in health and emotional situations as well. The quiet does not mean I want to be left alone but, rather, remaining in union with God. This is the only way I can get through moments to moments of pain and heartache. Thank you for your post.

  • Ferdiegayos

    pains and sufferings are ways God directs us to heavenly perspective. If everything in our lives are perfect, we may not wish heaven anymore. I try to offer my own “unexplained” pain and suffering as offering for the forgiveness of my sins and my love ones, this way, be these trials or punishments, it becomes something!

  • Kathy

    I want to thank everyone for their comments and especially their prayers.  I keep reading all of your comments every day, but instead of being comforted or hopeful, I find I am becoming more separated from God instead of closer.  I have even started committing sins I would never have done before this “perfect storm” happened.  I am very confused as it seems the “real” me who has loved God my whole life has disappeared, and I am becoming someone I don’t like.  I don’t know how to return to my former self.  I can’t even pray anymore and in fact don’t even want to.  I just want to escape from everything, even God.  I am hoping that this too will pass.  I am grateful for all of you as I have no one in my personal life who is willing to even listen to me let alone help me.  Even my own parish Church has denied me help when I reached out to them.  I just keep hoping that one day and I hope it will be soon that I hear Jesus speaking to me again as He used to. 

    • Anonymous

      Advice from my confessor just this week.  God isn’t so much concerned with our conquering sin….but rather that we keep fighting. Are we trying?  That’s all He asks…that we do our best and keep trying.

      Kathy, something in your last sentence reminded me of what Mother Teresa (Blessed Teresa) experienced…….many years of darkness after a short  period of incredible closeness.  Do you have a rosary or another small religious item that you can simply carry with you as a physical representation of your commitment to God?  (Good idea to have it blessed.)  Sometimes I can’t pray either………..and like you, don’t want to………but I can usually hold my rorsary……….and I’ve been told by a very faithful and holy priest that when we hold the rosary we are holding the hand of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

      Although it may often feel like it, we are NOT alone…that’s a promise from Jesus Himself.

  • Catholic4Truth

    As a person who has suffered physically and emotionally for many, many years I understand the question posed. It is very difficult to see past the storm during these times. However, “small” graces seem to “happen” upon me when least expected. These, I believe, are God’s way of saying: I know you are suffering, but I am here with you. The Rosary has always immensely been of help to me. Especially when I cannot go to Mass which is often. Thank you for posting this question/answer which many, many of us face in this lifetime.

  • Alexander Wang

    Dear, Fr. John, may I translate your article into Indonesian and re-publish it? I will provide link to this site. thank you very much.

    • danburke

      Yes