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Called to Abundant Life Columns

Blessings in Disguise?

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For most people, the pandemic of the last several months turned the world upside down. Emerging from a state of emergency has brought about lifestyle changes that are referred to as the new normal. The steps we take now in order to move forward are a resurrection moment for all of us. In the sacred liturgy for funerals, we are reminded by God that life is changed, not ended.

Certainly, there has been much suffering during the pandemic. Loss of jobs, sickness, fear of the spread of disease and death have been stressful. Not being able to enjoy the activities we are accustomed to and having to work and study remotely have been frustrating. Finally, not being able to gather for public Mass and celebrations of the Sacraments have robbed us of our joy.

Reflecting on all of this gives us pause to ask, where is God in all of this? There are no simple answers to that question, but we can live with certainty that He is walking with us. There are some people who will blame God for the pandemic and others who believe it is a form of divine punishment. It is very easy for people to dwell in their fear and even to become bitter or angry toward God.

Jesus never promised us a life free from suffering, but he did promise to remain with us and walk with us through suffering. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us, “In the world, you will have trouble, but fear not, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In this promise, we have consolation from God that no obstacle is insurmountable.

In the Letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16-17). In these verses, the Lord gives us keys for overcoming anything. We are told to pray, to give thanks and to rejoice. The centerpiece of this teaching is to give thanks, by looking for hidden blessings in every situation, even the difficult and uncomfortable ones.

Even when going through difficult times, and emerging from them, there’s a lot to be thankful for. Sometimes we just need to look for the blessings. Perhaps as we’ve been unable to partake in the Eucharist, we’ve been nourished by God’s Word in the Bible. With the shutdown of our usual activities, we’ve spent more time together at home, having family dinners together and communicating with each other about what matters. Some families have taken time to pray together.

This month, as the new normal becomes clearer, take a deep breath, and consider the strong and abiding presence of God in your life. Life has changed and God is inviting us all to look for goodness in ourselves, each other and our world, even when it’s hard to find. Every day we have an opportunity to turn to God in prayer and in his word and to seek Him. Even when the world is turned upside down, God is with us. Take some time this month to consider and be grateful for the hidden blessings that may have been disguised.

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