“I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.'" - Isaiah 41:13
How many times have I “idolized” myself by thinking I can take care of my own needs? How many times have I, out of fear, worked up a perfect scheme in my head to fix something or to fill some void, only turning to prayer as a last resort? Yet God says, “Fear not, I will help you.” Shouldn’t I feel relieved, without worry, that I don’t have to take care of everything myself?
Even when I do recall my dependence on God, how many times have I expected prayers to be answered in a certain way, half-heartedly praying “Thy will be done,” only to end up disappointed? I know through my experiences that in the end, God’s will is always better, yet why do I struggle to “let go and let God”? God, thank you for having mercy on me!
We are all needy. Yet these needs are not against us; we don’t have to look at them with fear. Rather, we can be radically grateful for these needs, for they call us back to our relationship with God. Our daily discomforts - whether physical suffering, loss, racing thoughts, an unending to-do list, passing the begging person on the street corner, impatience with our loved ones or colleagues - are the means through which God cries out to us. Not that God gives us an unending to-do list, but at the end of the day, those unchecked boxes and my incapacity to solve my problems and those of others can be a reminder that ultimately I need and depend on God (let’s be honest, even a complete to-do list isn’t satisfying enough!). And for this reason, thanks to the mercy of God, we can be gentle with ourselves instead of beating ourselves up because we think we have to do everything on our own, for our need is the very means through which we deepen our relationship with the One who loves us beyond all measure.
Today the Church remembers St. John of the Cross, who knew well that he could not fulfill his own needs or fix his suffering. Moreover, he didn’t expect God to fill his needs in a particular way. He saw the darkness of his life as the perfect means for the light of God to lead him. He trusted that God would help him, even if he didn’t know how He would do so.
Facing our hardship, let us remember that our hope isn’t in a certainty that the cross will be taken away, but rather in the certainty of a relationship with the One who helps us carry it, the One whom we meet again every time we beg for Him.
Let us pray,
Loving God, I thank you for any crosses I am bearing now (name them here!), and for the way you are helping me carry them. Through the intercession of St. John of the Cross, I ask for your forgiveness and mercy in the times I have forgotten you or distrusted your promise to help me, beyond my own capacity and expectations. This Advent and always, help me to expect only You, for You are the one Hope that lasts.
This reflection was written by Emily David
Emily David currently lives in Rome where she is pursuing a diploma in Interreligious Studies at the Angelicum, the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas. In addition, she has a Vatican internship with the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. She is also enjoying helping Verso Ministries plan for upcoming pilgrimages in Italy!