Father Knows Best:
Not Earthly Happiness But Eternal Joy
We often theorize that in a perfect world, our heart’s dearest wishes would come true. In theory our lives would be complete and fulfilled. The groanings of our earthly vessels hold out for such secularly minded hopes and dreams, even as God our Father reminds us that it is not so.
Father Knows Best
With perfect wisdom and love, Our Heavenly Father knows best. Just as a mother eagle pushes her nestlings out of the comfort she has built for them – in order for them to fly – so too, does God give us constant nudging into spiritual maturity. If we live in the worldly perfection we so imperfectly desire, we will not discover our need for God. This is His spiritual gift of love for us – for without sacrifice there is not love.
Sacrifice is Love
As the Bible tells us, “unless the seed falls to the ground and dies, there will not be life’. The dark night of the soul, experienced by many who are considered saints today, played a central role in their sanctity. Saint John of the Cross comes to mind.
“Hence when the divine light of contemplation strikes a soul not yet entirely illumined, it causes spiritual darkness, for it not only surpasses the act of natural understanding but it also deprives the soul of this act and darkens it… this great supernatural light overwhelms the intellect and deprives it of its natural vigor.” THE DARK NIGHT, book 2, #3
This is because in the dryness of spiritual darkness, lies God. When our earthly vessels are emptiest, that is when we most reach out to Him for love. For without sacrifice there is no love. If our lives were always perfect we would not find our need for God. Only with imperfection are we driven to the perfection of God. In His perfect plan, God did intend us to live in difficulty – for a time. He said, “Take up your cross and follow Me”.
Die to Self
Often we are willing to suffer some mortification of our own choosing, yet when God chooses it for us we are not quite so willing. The bitter gifts of God, however, develop our spiritual gifts. We are admonished to die to self. God does not rob a soul of peace – He gives the opportunity for purification.
It is well to frequently call to mind the sufferings Jesus bore for our salvation. That He voluntarily offered them up as expiation for our sins. This recollection is especially significant during a penitential season like Lent, for what we endure during Lent is intended to become a purifying habit. Those crosses and sacrifices we offer up while awaiting the resurrection can lead us to true happiness – abandoning self and serving others.
In order to gain true happiness, or joy, we must intensify our love of God. Acceptance of the sacrifices he lays on our hearts is vital to the pursuit of joy. Our sufferings and trials must be looked upon as a gift of God – only then will we truly love. And when we truly love, we will become more perfect children of God. Then, when we become more perfect children of God, we will discover true, lasting spiritual joy – not the fleeting earthy happiness the mortal world can bring.
This Lent, let me allow God to work within me – through His perfect Will. Let me accept my trials and sufferings with Grace so that I might find a more perfect love of God! May I continue my acceptance even after we have again celebrated the Resurrection.
*This post was inspired by thoughts by Venerable Fulton Sheen.