Recently I was talking with friends about what I consider to be the “worst day of my life.” I was 19 years old and had gotten a call that morning about a very young relative who had been diagnosed with advanced leukemia; I was waiting for the results of a medical test, and THAT was haunting my moments; and I was in a car accident which scared me half to death, and my knee was throbbing from being slammed into the back of the seat in front of me. I was reflecting on the day and was thinking, “O Lord, thank you for bringing me through it”, but I was also thinking, “O Lord, what a horrible day, I feel like I want to throw up!”
And then I envisioned Joan of Arc. Not the popular image of her (the one I also love!), armored to the hilt, sword unsheathed, rushing into battle – no, the Joan of Arc burning at the stake, at the age of 19. Burned for heresy and for not renouncing her belief that she had heard the voice of God and the voices of saints, she was basically burned for the sake of fear. An influential bishop took it upon himself to take her out in order to silence her. He could not let her live and risk that she would influence the soldiers – and the common people – any longer.
Funny, how “poor me!” moments turn into “oh my” revelations about our (my) inherent self-centeredness. And recognition of the promises made to us in scripture, that if we are faithful to our call to Live the Word, we will be redeemed by our Heavenly Father. The perfect scripture passage for this is in 1 Peter 5:6-11:
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you.
Cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares about you.
Be sober, be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself
restore, establish, and strengthen you.
To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Isn’t that the best promise? Not that you WON’T suffer, but that when you do, it will only be for a little while, and then you will be restored and strengthened. Not that you will be spared from pain, but that God will be there to relieve you and take your suffering from you.
None of us is spared. But let’s get some perspective; when you are having a hard time at work, think of Joan of Arc, burning at the stake for her faith in what she had been told by God. When you are struggling with making ends meet, remember the Christians who are being persecuted and killed in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey – for their faith. When you miss your bus to work, think of agonizing parents sitting in rooms up in Children’s Hospital, listening to beeping machines that are keeping pace with their child’s vital signs. When your grown child makes the ten thousandth questionable decision and you are not sure that you can keep vigil – one more day – while they struggle and scrape to find their way in the world – remember that God Himself is with you, and He already knows what is going to happen, and that He has always held them in His hands –
and that He is capable, beyond all human belief or speculation, of taking care of His own.