Bayfront Living – July 2022

Every night during my childhood, without fail, as I snuggled under the covers, my mother led me in bedtime prayers. The foundation for our prayer was the classic, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Make me a good little girl. Amen” Yep, every night I imagined dying in my sleep and the Lord taking my soul. In truth, I wasn’t really opposed to the idea. On some level, I believed God was good and loved me. Over time, as I became more aware of the dangers lurking in the world and as nightmares became a looming possibility, I tagged on another prayer that made sense to me. “Please don’t let me have bad dreams tonight and please don’t let anything bad ever happen to me.” Since there were two extra requests, therefore two “pleases,” I figured the most efficient way to pray these requests would be to count by two’s up to 100. I figured fifty pleas for each prayer should cover it. Or maybe that was as far as I could count by two’s at the time, as math was never my strong suit. AS life and my active psyche would have it, I have since experienced countless scary dreams. Despite my prayers for an unsullied life, I have experienced the disheartening reality that suffering is unavoidable. So what does that mean? There is the temptation to believe that prayer and faith should exempt us from suffering. But here is the thing. Suffering is a part of life that results from physical pain, resisting inevitable change, trying to grasp at unrealistic expectations and responding to forces outside of ourselves over which we have no control. Walking through suffering requires faith that God loves us so much that our pain is important to Him/Her. In light of this, there is a mystery that requires some tightrope walking. The mind- boggling mystery is that suffering and joy often walk hand in hand. WE must learn how to hold space in our hearts and minds for them to co-exist. In the midst of a hard season, many graces appear if we keep our eyes open. A heart of greater compassion for others is a possible silver lining…greater maturity and even greater faith as we see how God works. The scriptures affirm this over and over. And the ultimate message is that, in the end… joy wins. Consider these verses from the Bible:
“…weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
Before His passion, Jesus reassured His disciples saying,

“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:22

.What about you? What in your life right now is causing suffering?Can you sense the parallel tracks of joy and suffering? How are you navigating that tension? What does trust in the divine plan for your life look like? What lessons has suffering taught you? Compassion? Humility? Patience? Faith?

In my childhood, I wanted to avoid all adversity, not realizing that on this planet that request was impossible to grant. Yet, in my experiences with difficulty, I have found Christ to be faithful and the words of Saint Paul to ring true :
“ For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
And, in turn…”
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD”
Psalm 27:13