For the past few days I have been finding out about friends’ and loved ones’ struggles, pains, heartbreaks. And my heart hurts. It hurts for the marriages that are close to breaking; the emotional, mental and physical pain that many are going through; the loneliness; the wrestling to find meaning in the midst of trials. I bring these people to the feet of my Lord, and I beg Him, “Help!” But I can’t seem to let go, to remember that He is the Savior and I am not. I hold on to the pain, taking it on as my own. Like I can save them.
Today, as often happens after loved ones’ pain is revealed to me, I had a horrible temptation to despair. The problems came rushing to my mind, I started to pray, and a little voice started whispering, “Why pray? What’s the point? If God knows all, allows all for the Good of the person’s soul, what’s the point in praying for relief of pain, for comfort, for mended marriages?” And then I couldn’t pray. I would start to say, “Lord, I pray for _______. Heal/comfort/etc….” And the little voice came back, “Why? What if it’s God’s Will? What if you are actively praying against God’s Will for this person?” I think, “Yes, what if I am praying against His Will? What should I pray? How should I pray? What’s the point?” I know I need to pray. Something about relationship. But the how and the what are escaping me right now. So I’ve got, “My Jesus, mercy” and the Rosary. I’m thankful for that much.
My reading today helped some. I am nearly finished with A Song for Nagasaki, a book about Japanese radiologist and Catholic convert, Takashi Nagai. Amazing story. I cannot wait until the Catholic Church recognizes his sainthood. In his later writings, as he lay dying from leukemia and radiation poisoning (he was a victim of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki), he writes about prayer: “…some prayer is ‘plain superstition’ or ‘no different from purchasing a lottery ticket.’ Real prayer does not make difficult demands…No, we can pray as soon as we can speak with the loving Person who is the source of all dynamism in the universe (133). Speaking to his children, whom he would soon leave as orphans, he says,
“Your Christian faith will be no drug that anesthetizes pain. But I can assure you of this: your…path is precisely what God in His Providence has chosen, specially for you! Accept it as such and often ask Him: How can I use this for Your glory? This is no popular psychology, no clever method for shaking off the blues. No, it’s the one authentic response to the mystery of life. Sickness and trouble are not a sign that we are far from God or that He has rejected us….we don’t believe in a God of small deeds who lets His favourites win lotteries and whimsically ignores the others. He is too big to act like that…the only life that interests me is one lived for Him….one day at a time, supported by prayer…Some get themselves into a knot over the ‘unfairness’ of God’s Providence…I can assure you of this: if each of us accepts ourselves as we are it is absolutely certain that a day will come when we can see how God’s plans have been accomplished, and precisely through our weakness…(149-150).
Yes, some comfort, but I guess I will continue to keep Thy steadfast love before my eyes and try to walk in faithfulness to Thee (Ps. 26.3) And keep repeating, “My Jesus, mercy. My Jesus, mercy.” My friends and loved ones, I’m still praying for you. Honestly, I don’t know what to ask for or how to ask for it. But I’m praying and I know He’s listening.