We’ve spent this season in hoping, tender anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ, which we celebrated on Christmas Day. It is incredible to think of the miracles that have been performed through faith — people healed unexpectedly, people having the chance to see God, people meeting Jesus or the Virgin Mary — and something about their testimonies buoys our faith, which is not always the easiest to maintain. As human beings, we seek “proof” and “facts,” and it can be hard to remember that God doesn’t work in proof or facts; He is so much more.
But what happens when it seems like God is quiet? When no matter how hard you pray (for big miracles or small miracles), God doesn’t seem to be moving? This can feel especially evident when dealing with the loss or struggle of a loved one. How can God be ignoring these prayers, when they are so raw, so heartfelt, so open? And, if it seems that others’ prayers are being answered while yours are not, the whole experience can feel even harder.
Luckily, our faith offers so much comfort for these feelings; first and foremost is the counsel that God never leaves the side of His people. Our God braves the wilderness for each and every one of us, following us out into the night as many times as we leave. Human definitions are constrained by a series of limits that simply do not exist for God; we cannot and will not ever be able to understand the magnitude of His devotion to us. But, we can bask in its light and its love.
For the big miracles, an oft-quoted lesson offers some comfort. God has three answers to prayer: “yes,” “not yet,” or “I have something better.” While this perspective can be hard to grasp in the depths of the trenches, it can be a ladder out. God, who knew and loved each and every one of us before we were even Earthside, always listens. The “something better” answer stings, especially when what’s already there is pretty great. But, just as we cannot comprehend the love of God, neither can we comprehend the workings of God.
As Catholics, we are called to keep the flame of faith burning brightly. When that faith flickers, it might be a good point to stop and take stock — the prayers for big miracles are quickly replaced with prayers for small miracles, but we must make sure that we are praying with intention always.
For the smaller miracles we ask for, Matthew Kelly from Dynamic Catholic invites us to think about what we are asking of God: “Too often when we pray, we pray for tweaking. We want God to tweak this and tweak that . . . We don’t necessarily want our lives transformed. Transformation may seem attractive in a moment of blissfully holy idealistic exuberance, but . . . we like to distance ourselves from the inner work required to bring about such a transformation.”
“We pray for tweaking, and then wonder why God doesn’t answer our prayers. God is not interested in tweaking. God is in the business of transformation. He wants to turn your life upside down, which as it turns out, is right side up. If you want to see something incredible, start praying for transformation.”
—Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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