(A reflection on today’s scripture passages: Heb 10:32-39; Ps 37:3-6, 23-24, 39-40; Mt 11:25; and Mk 4:26-34.)
In today’s first reading from Hebrews, we are reminded to not become discouraged and lose hope when we are afflicted by various sufferings. Rather, we should joyfully accept them knowing that God’s love for us, in the present and eternally, is a better and lasting possession1 if we keep confident and endure to do the will of God.
Scripture is God speaking to each of us. Meditating on His words today reminded me of how badly I stink at suffering, of how it is so much easier to complain about physical ailments, complicated relationships, and, in general, simply not getting my way, rather than finding joy in spite of those situations. Then, in the Holy Spirit’s fashion, He didn’t let me dwell on that very long. He spoke to me with some examples to follow by placing on my mind and heart the sufferings of three close friends: Harry, Larry and Andy.
Harry has lung cancer. He endured a series of chemo and radiation treatments and the doctors thought they had it corralled. But, it came back and he’s now going through a second round. Harry’s faith is enduring. He continues to attend daily mass on mornings when he’s able and his compromised immune system is less vulnerable to catching something from the rest of us. He is always cheerful and, as much as we long to give each other a hug, there is a ton of love in each fist bump.
Larry has skin cancer. He’s been told he has a couple years of life left…here on this earth. But, Larry has a trust in God like nobody I’ve ever seen. He knows from the bottom of his heart that he is in good hands no matter the physical prognosis, and finds strength in the hope of everlasting life with the One Who loves him more than anyone else in the universe. I know this from the smile on his face and the joy in his eyes I see every time we meet.
Andy was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. With treatment he might make it through the summer. I had breakfast with him and his wife a couple weeks ago. He was as upbeat and jovial as he’s always been. You’d never know he had a struggle in the world. Andy is a hard worker, and his state in life is to provide for his family. I know he will continue to do his best in that role until it is physically impossible for him to do so.
Harry, Larry, and Andy. Three men who are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.2 Three men who, through their love of God and faith in Jesus, are examples to the rest of us. They are humble and childlike3 before God They know that all things work for good for those who love and trust in God.4 They are like mustard seeds, which have put forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky (the rest of us) can dwell in its shade.5 They bring the Kingdom of God6 to the rest of us so that we can find comfort and strength. They model the idea that their salvation is from the Lord; He is their refuge in time of distress. And the Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him.7
Harry, Larry, and Andy. I pray for them, and every person who is struggling with a terrible disease, each and every day. Will you join me?
“Good and gracious God, thank You for placing good and holy men like Harry, Larry, and Andy in my life. Reassure them, please, that their struggle is not in vain, that through their faith in Your mercy and grace, there will be goodness result from their trials. Help me, Jesus, develop the trust in you that they have. For them and for all the faithful, let the Church pray. Amen.”
(Have Faith and Possess Life was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
- Hebrews 10:34, NAB
- Hebrews 10:39, NAB
- Matthew 11:25, NAB
- Romans 8:23, NAB
- Mark 4:32, NAB
- Mark 4:30, NAB
- Psalm 37:39b, 40, NAB
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