Giving in, Giving out and Giving up- He holds us back to raise us up.
I have started this program Giving in, Giving Out and Giving Up and done just a few programs so far. Last night's show was scheduled in dealing with the subject of Perseverance. I selected these three descriptors as principle ways in which we fall away.
Obviously, Giving in (submission to sin) and Giving out (succumbing to despair) are the grave and mortal fails that put us in dread danger of hell.
However, many of us fall into the third category in this discussion- Giving Out.
Giving out is that action that- in the moment- is not disobedience. It really is a person not unwilling to go on but unable. Giving Out can sometimes be no more than the simple case of a human being collapsing from sheer exhaustion. Jesus collapsed 3 times from the weight of the Cross.
What are you to make of the situation where it seems like God is responsible for the pushing? When life just beats on you and beats on you and obstacles arise, over and over again, that literally make it impossible to accomplish the very work God has set out for us to do?
Continuing my reading of Sister Faustina's diary, I was struck by another insight in your journey that seemingly parallels ....well...my whole life...
+Strangely, all things came about just as the Lord had requested. In fact, it was on the first Sunday after Easter [April, 1935] that the image was publicly honored by crowds of people for the first time. For three days it was exposed and received public veneration. Since it was placed at the very top of a window at Ostra Brama [Shrine of Our Lady above the "Eastern Gate" to the city of Vilnius], it could be seen from a great distance. At Ostra Brama, during these three days, the closing of the Jubilee of the Redemption of the World was being celebrated, marking the nineteen hundred years that have passed since the Passion of our Savior. I see now that the work of Redemption is bound up with the work of mercy requested by the Lord.
One day, I saw interiorly how much my confessor would have to suffer: friends will desert you while everyone will rise up against you and your physical strength will diminish. I saw you as a bunch of grapes chosen by the Lord and thrown into the press of suffering. Your soul, Father, will at times be filled with doubts about this work and about me. I saw that God himself seemed to be opposing [him], and I asked the Lord why He was acting in this way toward him, as though He were placing obstacles in the way of his doing what He himself had asked him to do. And the Lord said, I am acting thus with him to give testimony that this work is Mine. Tell him not to fear anything; My gaze is on him day and night. There will be as many crowns to form his crown as there will be souls saved by this work. It is not for the success of a work, but for the suffering that I give reward.
O my Jesus, You alone know what persecutions I suffer, and this only because I am being faithful to You and following Your orders. You are my strength; sustain me that I may always carry out what You ask of me. Of myself I can do nothing, but when You sustain me, all difficulties are nothing for me. O my Lord, I can see very well that from the time when my soul first received the capacity to know You, my life has been a continual struggle which has become increasingly intense.
Wow. It's as if these passages were written for me! I do not even know how many times I have cried out from this very particularly cruel seeming agony. Our Lord seems to set the staircase before us that we are to climb then stands at the top and kicks us down the stairs each time we attempt to ascend....or stands back and watches the devil kick us down if you prefer looking at it that way.
I once said to former Deeper Truth member Christie Martin that I just don't understand why that it is in the exact moments that I try hardest to serve God that I face the most fierce and horrible circumstances and opposition!
Christie, in her wonderful straight-to-the-point way, retorted;
John! Have you even read the Gospels???
"Oh wait" you say "Are you trying to tell me God would set a job before you, then actually frustrate your ability to carry it out? That's ridiculous! God would never do such a thing!"
No? Read this.
We fool ourselves sometimes. Is it for God's Glory that we wish to accomplish the great thing, or for our own?
Unfortunately, God has reserved slaying the dragon for someone else. Apologies to Saint George for my jealousy.
It is as if life is a grand production of the 10 Commandments. Of course every would-be-saint wants to be Moses but God chose some of us to take our place in the mud that makes the bricks. True, you are not the star in this story, but neither is Charlton Heston. Really, the actual star isn't even the real Moses. The star is Jesus, who the whole story points to. So, whether God chooses you to be before the spotlight or operating the spotlight or just dancing in the mud, it is His will Period. Full stop.
Were those mud-dancing Israelites not commanded for 400 years to pray for deliverance? They were. Yet many never saw it. Did God deceive them? abandon them? Let them down? I'm sure many of them felt so. I confess to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have felt it many times.
and here I stand, stuck in the mud, even now.
How do we reconcile this with Sister Faustina's insight from above?
Is it God Himself who sticks us in the mud and weighs us down in the mud and commands us to come out of the mud, knowing full well that we can't?
It does seem like that, doesn't it? It certainly seems like that's what God did to the Israelites!
Until you fathom.....
Just which mud am I trying to get free from? Is it the mud of soil or the mud of sin? Would God leave me trapped in one to free me from the other? God, in His particular sense of humor, must take a laugh or two at the irony of it. I can almost hear Him say.
My child, I will take you to the apex of the towering and majestic mountain by holding you down in the muck of the primordial ooze.
Those who humble themselves will be exalted, those who exalt themselves will be humbled. (Matthew 23:12).
Paradox, Paradox, Paradox. A thousand times, Paradox. If people ask for one word that describes our Catholic faith, it is Paradox. A truth that seems like a contradiction.
So you say "If God loved those Israelites so much, why did He not save them from the mud puts?!"
because He saved them THROUGH the mud pits!
One thief got this message....one didn't. (Luke 23:39-43)
Why should the mud dancer be as joyful as the city builder? It's about Grace and it's about merit. Sometimes God gives to people extraordinary things to do and sometimes he gives to them ordinary things to do against extraordinary circumstances. That's where the expression comes from that we are not to judge a man until we have walked a mile in his shoes.
All things work together in this purpose (Romans 8:28) because the journey is the destination. In the end, Jesus is not as concerned with whether or not you reached the top of the stairs as He is with the level of effort you put forth in trying to reach the top. All of the difficulties in life and all of the burdens have the potential to add merit because the greatest measure of love is the cost. (Mark 12:41-43, John 15:13)
What does that have to do with suffering? Much.
As I understand it, suffering on earth has 4 intended theological purposes.
To dissuade you from the wrong path, to the right one.
To allow you to atone for past sins.
To further purify you.
To merit Graces for the conversion and benefit of others.
The stumbling block becomes the cornerstone.