From a few weeks back I’ve been praying about Lent this year. For some sign, for direction. A prayer maybe, or better still, a book. But nothing came. I went to bed the night before Ash Wednesday with a mound of prayers left by God’s door. Well, not really prayers, but just one, said over and over:
Give me a Word at least.
And just before sleep claimed me, Our Lady of Lourdes, let me hear Your voice.
No book, no discourse. No soft, sweet voice either. So, one single word for Lent, it wasn’t much that I was asking for.
A busy day came and went. I received no Word from God on this 1st of Lent – although I did have a far quieter heart and strength not mine for a long and difficult day.
Then, late in the evening, despite prayers and attempts at hope, we received news of a setback. I tried to bravely accept this setback involving my son, and live out my faith as I should, but I faltered after a few hours of make-believe.
Rather than hide my tottering column of faith and compound matters further, I took my disappointment, the whole cart of it, and dumped it before God.
Why, I demanded angrily, why did You not answer our prayers in the way we wanted? What was so wrong with our prayer that You chose to answer it in the negative? I thought of my boy, his long struggle, and now, trying so hard to be strong in the face of defeat.
How do I mend his broken heart? I hurled my anger and sorrow at God.
Heaven did what it does best – it remained silent.
Some hours later, still hurting and confused but trying to surrender and accept, I told God through gritted teeth,
Let my hurt be, but hold my son close to You. Do not forsake him. Bind his heart to Yours.
I had some minutes to myself. Wanting to take my mind off things, I reached for the book I am reading now. But my gaze strayed to another – Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul by St. Faustina Kowalska. I had no intention whatsoever of choosing Divine Mercy in My Soul – I wanted cheering up and that was sure not the book to get the lark singing in my heart.
However, something began to pull and tug at my conscience. It’s Lent, you know, hissed an exasperated voice from within me. Choose the Diary – for the sake of Lent.
Still at war with God, I thought of my Ash Wednesday. It had been a day like any other, filled to the brim with endless work and another round of hurt. I didn’t have anything for my Lord, not even on this day when He asks to be consoled. No Lent prayer. No Lent meditation. Now, the day was drawing to its close. Clouds clustered together in the purple night skies, softly weeping. What was a few last minutes given to Jesus?
I dropped my book and picked up Diary – Divine Mercy in My Soul. Give me a Word, Lord. You speak so much to the saints, why won’t You say just one Word to me? I threw one last dart of a grumble in God’s direction.
Opening the book to a folded page, a bookmark fell out from elsewhere. It was a prayer card someone had left in our pew after the blessing of the sick on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes back in February.
A Message to the Sick
God is with you
it is true,
But He is near you.
Trust in Him.
If He has let you suffer,
It is because He sees something good in it,
which today you do not know.
Your peace of mind is in your
“Trust in God”
Who can never let you down.
I went still reading those words. Not a prayer, but a message to the sick. Message – as if fully expecting that I’d likely dismiss it if it said ‘prayer’.
Message – as in words sent by someone.
For Ash Wednesday, I had asked for a Word from God. He gave me Words.
I asked to hear Our Lady’s voice. She answered me through the healing message of Lourdes.
The moment I heard Her voice, my spirit ceased its struggle. I saw what I could not accept in the earlier hours when the dry branches of winter tore at our hearts. I saw that the setback we experienced today was God’s answer to our prayers – as well as His answer to my son’s toil and struggle. Strange and unfair as it appears to our earthly sight on this side of heaven, while I cannot yet see how this disappointment is good for us, God certainly can and He knows the hidden value of a great and good gift.
Trust in God.
I lay down my sword. And with it, my heart.