I’ve been in a bit of a slump recently. Sometimes I just get down when I think of the state of the world. Sometimes I just get down when I think of the state of my own broken humanity and the interior battles I must continue to fight. “How long, O Lord!?” is a refrain from the psalms that I find welling up in me quite often.
There is so much suffering in the world … How long until you deliver us, O Lord!? There is so much confusion and deception in the world … How long until your truth is revealed, O Lord!? There are so many lonely, pained people who don’t know who they are … How long until your love fills every heart, O Lord!? I’ve encountered this love, tasted it, but I falter, I turn to my own way, I forget …How long, O Lord, until I see you face to face and know you in the eternal embrace for which I so ardently long!?
In a pre-papal interview, Pope Benedict XVI observed: “If you consider it in purely empirical terms, you could think that evil is the chief power in the world.” But then he insisted: “To have Christian hope means to know about evil and yet to go to meet the future with confidence” (Salt of the Earth, Ignatius Press). This is a confidence based not on humanity’s ability to make a better world, but on the certainty that evil has limits; that God has already conquered evil through the death and resurrection of his Son; and that “all flesh shall see the salvation of our God” (Lk 3:6).
A student of mine, who has suffered in her 60 or so years of life probably more than anyone I’ve ever met, recently buoyed my own faith and injected hope into the midst of my slump when she wrote to tell me of how she is encountering Christ in the midst of her trials. Note, it’s not that her trials are disappearing, but that she is learning to encounter Christ in them. She is falling in love with Christ in profound ways in the midst of some very heavy burdens.
I could feel the effects in the Body of Christ of her remarkable faith. I could sense heaven rejoicing in her faith and her hope. And, as often happens with me, I heard lyrics to a song in my head:
My life goes on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the real though far off hymn
That hails a new creation
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?
Yes, since Love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing? Every trial, every sorrow, every wound and suffering will be glorified if I retain my hope in this Love. I pray you feel that injection of hope in your life as this new year unfolds.
For such a time as this have we been given Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. By taking us beyond the alternatives of prudish repression and damaging indulgence, the Theology of the Body opens the path to the redemption of sexuality and the real healing of our wounds. Learn more by watching my short film, The Cry of the Heart. Watch the trailer below.