It is almost Christmas. We all make plans about practically everything: what to do, where to go, what gifts to give, what to eat, what to clean up and discard! We get busy with ourselves, our health, our family, our work, our ministry, shopping, social media or what have you, you name it. In today’s readings and Gospel, we are reminded to be sober and to be awake. We enter the season of Advent, and this is a reminder for us to always prepare ourselves for the Lord’s coming amidst many distractions that can harm our souls and keep us drowsy or asleep.
During the recent months, I started having concerns with my health. During my most recent illness, I was advised to try oral medication, with the hope that there would not be any need for hospital confinement. But eventually, I learned I would still need to go through the latter.
Did I pray that the medication would work? I certainly did. But just because we pray for something does not mean we shall receive exactly what we ask for. But even at the time that I learned of the possibility that the medicines might not be enough, even with the concerns of being interrupted from daily routines and responsibilities not to mention ‘unplanned’ expenses this would cost my family, I was remarkably at peace.
Early this year, everyone in the family got sick. We did not get tested but it was either the flu or Omicron. At any rate, it was I who got it the worst. Even with my poor immune system, I rarely get a fever or the flu. I would catch it every five years on the average. And as I said, this could have been the flu or COVID. I experienced pain in my joints and muscles. Later on, I realized I was warmer than usual. I am sure some mothers would agree. Oftentimes, we do not need a thermometer to initially figure out when our children’s – or even our husband’s –temperature is higher than usual. We use our hand and we just KNOW. Call it experience or instinct – or both I assume, but we just simply know. And so I told my husband I seem warmer than usual. He did not think so but when I checked my temperature using a thermometer, I was right.
During the start of the pandemic in 2020, COVID had created that kind of fear that could paralyze us psychologically and even spiritually. People we knew were getting it and it was as if we were just waiting for COVID to one day hit any of us by surprise. I felt the beginning of dread starting to crawl coldly within me – fear of an unknown future, fear of losing a job, fear of losing my family, fear of dying and leaving my family, fear of never being able to receive Communion and go for confession ever again.
And when this fear starts to paralyze us, we only have one resort – prayer, our hotline to God. But then, churches were closed and Jesus, present, Body, Soul and Divinity in the church, was out of reach. It was such a blessing to be able to hear Mass online daily at the very least, but with such great longing did we yearn to receive Jesus during Holy Communion. But turning to God during Mass, was enough to keep our sanity, to calm us during a turbulent time in the world when people would quickly get sick and die left and right.
And when finally, I thought COVID had already reached me in 2022, as I lay in bed in pain, I could only think of God and my family. And I asked God to give me the strength not to complain (as this is quite my common nature and weakness), to help me bear this illness manfully and to make use of this very little suffering (compared to our Lord’s), by offering it for strength and healing for those who are severely sick with COVID.
At that moment, I surrendered everything to our good God, my life, my family and simply gave in to the Will of God, as He desires and wills. And I was flooded with incredible peace. The next day, I learned my son already had slight fever and cough. Normally, I would panic and such information about my children could bring my mind unrest. But even with this news, surprisingly, that peace did not leave me. He had fever for just a day or two and quickly recovered from cough even without antibiotic. My husband had fever but quickly recovered as well. By the end of the week, my daughter had fever too but recovered immediately as well. Maybe it was just a simple virus, whatever. But during the beginning of the pandemic, a slight cough or cold could be a symptom of COVID. Within a few days, I got better but it took me almost two weeks to fully recover and regain my usual strength. As I heard online Mass, prayed the family rosary and prayed the Divine Chaplet, I was able to go through each day without any worry. I breezed through my quarantine days, reading, spending time in meditation and watching some movies. I felt that the Divine Chaplet, the one being played by EWTN, had been a soothing balm to my soul each day that I was so grateful to our Lord. Thus, when I recall the experience, I rest in the beauty of such memory that God sustained me throughout my days of illness and discomfort. I did not feel that anything was lacking. In the same way, even as I waited for the results of my recent tests until the time the doctor told me I had to go through a medical procedure, God did not allow anxiety to overcome me and paralyze me. Naturally, it crossed my mind that there are things I would miss and the inconveniences my family and I would experience among others. These thoughts passed by indeed but failed in taking away the peace that only God can give.
In all honesty, I cannot say that I have mastered the art of always surrendering everything to God as this is not an art in itself at all. I am merely referring to these particular experiences that I shared. And it is not even by my own power and strength. I can only boast of my weaknesses, as St. Paul said. It is only by the grace of God which He bestows when I ask from Him that I am able to do something I am naturally incapable of. But I find that whenever I resist Him and insist on my own will, all the more that I feel troubled and
feel left alone.
Knowing how poor and wretched our souls are without His grace, unworthy as we are, God generously come to our aid when we call on Him. I have discovered that when we keep our faith and unite our free will with His Will, we are less stressed and God is able to act through us with His Grace. But when we resist and insist on our own will, our own plans, our own schedule and at times complain, we only stress ourselves and prevent Him from helping us. But when we are willing, despite our imperfections, we are able to keep our focus and make use of our sufferings to unite with our Lord’s and our Lady’s, offer these for others who are also suffering, whether here on earth or in purgatory. Then, our sufferings become useful and become a blessing to other souls.
To give in to the Will of God is not to be forced to surrender as a last resort – just because we have no choice – but to rest in faith in our Father Whom we believe, loves us dearly and knows what is best for us.
When God allows unexpected circumstances to happen to us, we realize we have more time to pray and talk to God. And when we do spend time with Him amidst difficult times, we realize that His Love is enough to sustain us. God is ENOUGH.
To God be the glory!