I sat in adoration with a heavy heart that held the same familiar intention. For years, someone I deeply love had been very sick. To watch a person you care about suffer is absolutely gut-wrenching. You would do anything to take away their pain and feel helpless when you can’t. So, I prayed for him at every moment I could. It was easier for me to “trust” God in the beginning of his illness. He could do anything, right? If I just trusted enough, God would heal him. However, it was taking longer than I hoped for and barely anything was changing. It seemed like my novenas and rosaries were all met with silence and setbacks. My prayers had become battles to me, fighting on my loved one’s behalf for God to finally notice him. My heart had never felt so discouraged. With the years adding up, it was so hard not to blame God at times. Why wasn’t He fighting as hard as I was?
So there I found myself again in front of Jesus, consumed with my same petition and low expectations. Suddenly, a loud and rushing thought abruptly interrupted my prayer:
My eyes shot open and my heart stood still, for I knew that those two unexpected words were not my own but the Lord’s. I broke down crying, as I felt the weight of three years filled with doubt, anxiety, fear, and anger lift off my shoulders. My heart was consoled and filled with an unexplainable peace. I had an instant and deep understanding of what God was trying to tell me. He was saying: “I don’t know why you pray so defensively with Me, as if I am against him. Know how much I love him. Trust that I will take care of him. Remember, he is mine first. ”
I fiercely love this person with everything in my heart. This love stirs a deep desire within me to accompany him and protect him in the midst of his suffering. However, the one person that I never have to protect him from is God; because, here’s the truth: God loves him more than I do. He loves him far better and greater than I ever could. In fact, God loves every single person that is important to me beyond my comprehension. It will always be that simple. In His unfailing love, He would never abandon me or those that I care for. I can trust God with the ones I love, because they belong to Him before they ever belong to me.
Trust Like Mary
Mary has become one of my greatest companions in showing me how to enter into a loved one’s suffering with complete confidence in the Lord. At the Annunciation, Mary gave her fiat, her yes. She trusted in the Lord's will, even if she did not fully understand all that it would entail. Her response was of complete surrender and love. When Mary and Joseph presented their baby at the temple, Simeon prophesied about how Jesus would bring salvation to all people. He then told Mary that it would feel as if a sword had pierced her own soul (Luke 2:35). I don’t think that she could have imagined the depth of her pain in witnessing her son being mocked, tortured, and crucified.
When I felt like my trust in the Lord was broken and needed repairing, I clung to Mary to show me the way. Mary was so intimately united to Jesus’ suffering on the cross. Her heart was filled with immense sorrow. However, she did not despair. Her fiat extended to the moment of Jesus’ death. She encountered the crucifixion in complete surrender. She did not doubt God’s love for her or her Son. Instead, Mary entirely entrusted her Son to God, as she knew the joy that was to come from his resurrection. Mary remains compassionately close to us, as she profoundly understands our sadness. However, she does not want us to be overcome by it. Instead, she brings us closer to the Father’s heart by calling us to unite our suffering to her son’s cross. Mary exemplifies what it means to have an unwavering and authentic trust in God. It is one that is greater than all the sorrows and understandings of this world. Let her be our guide in cementing a bold confidence within us, as we entrust those we love so dearly to the Lord.
Remaining Confident in the Lord
God hasn’t given me the reason to why someone I love remains sick, while other people are healed. He hasn’t given me the answer to when or if he will ever get better. God has never promised me the fulfillment of those questions. Therefore, I do not dwell in the false promises that I’ve created and wrongfully tried to hold God accountable for. Instead, I willingly choose to remain in a state of complete surrender to God’s true promises: His unfailing love and unshakable presence. Those are the promises in which we must put our trust and find our hope.
In his book, Searching For and Maintaining Peace, Fr. Jacques Philippe wrote: “God loves our dear ones infinitely more than we do, and infinitely better. He wants us to believe in this love, and also to know how to entrust those who are dear to us into His hands. And this will often be a much more efficacious way of helping them.” Entrusting our loved ones to God becomes a tremendous gift. The root of our encounters with them will no longer be based on fear or the desire to control. Instead, the foundation of our encounters become based on the choice to put our trust in the Father’s love. My loved one has never needed me to be his savior, for that is an impossible task. He needs me to entrust him to our Savior. To relinquish my anxieties concerning him into the Lord’s hands and completely trust that he will be taken care of. Consequently, it allows for me to be truly present in our time together, for I no longer am quickly consumed with sorrow but more readily able to find joy within its midst. In doing this, my love has stretched and grown beyond what I ever thought was possible.