Parents have a lot to be anxious about. We see our children suffer, from infants on up. It is so easy to get caught up in it….to let it consume us.
We have to stand back and get a hold of ourselves…..look at the situation through the eyes of a confident child, that knows her Father is watching over her and those she loves and listening to every prayer.
A Summary of Father Jacques Philippe’s thoughts on Our Attitude When Confronted With the Suffering of Those Close to Us :
“Experience shows that peace,
Which fills your soul with charity
The love of God and of your neighbor,
Is the road that leads directly to eternal life.”
What do we do when we are unable to abandon ourselves to God?
The short and profound answer is “Abandon yourself anyway!”
“This is the response of the saints,” says Father Philippe in his book Searching For and Maintaining Peace.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus also says “Total abandonment; that’s my only law!”
Abandonment does not come naturally, it is a gift and a grace that we must ask God for. God will surely give it to us if we pray with perseverance. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and if we ask in faith He will answer.
“If you, then who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Ghost to those who ask Him.” Luke 11:13.
Our peace of soul is crucial to remaining close to God and furthering our spiritual life.
A situation where we frequently can lose our peace of soul is when someone close to us is suffering. A lot of times we are more troubled by someone’s suffering other than our own.
We can be tempted to give into excessive anxiety when our loved one’s health is compromised, their financial situation is strung out, they have mental health issues, etc.
It is so easy to lose heart at these times and become very anxious. But Isaiah 49:15 reminds us: “Can a mother forget her infant, or be without tenderness for the child in her womb? Even should she forget I will never forget you.”
We are normally hardened and selfish creatures but the more we advance in the spiritual life the more our compassion for others grow.
But we must always remain faithful and peaceful in the face of the suffering of others.
St. Dominic spent his nights in prayer and pleading with the Lord: “Merciful God, what will become of sinners?”
The Saints were always tender, peaceful and confident.
Father Philippe talks about how sometimes our compassion, if disordered, is selfish:
“We have a way of implicating ourselves in the sufferings of others that is not always correct, that sometimes proceeds more from my love of self instead of from a true love of others.
And we believe that to preoccupy ourselves excessively with another in difficulty is justified, that it is a sign of the love that we feel for the other person.
But this is false.
There is often in this attitude a great, hidden love of ourselves. We cannot bear the sufferings of others because we are afraid of suffering ourselves.
The reason is that we, too, lack confidence in God. It is normal to be profoundly touched by the suffering of another who is dear to us, but if, because of this, we torment ourselves to the point of losing our peace, this signifies that our love for the other person is still not fully spiritual, is still not in harmony with God.
It is a love that is still too human and, without doubt, egotistical, whose foundation is not sufficiently based on an unshakable confidence in God.”
Those who suffer around us need people who are confident, joyful, and at peace. This helps them much more than to be surrounded with those who are distressed and anxious. It heightens their own sadness and anxiety.
We need to support those who are suffering. It is normal to be anxious, but we need to pray for their healing with perseverance and confidence.
We should do all that is humanly and spiritually possible to obtain whatever it is we are asking for. It is our duty to do these things.
But we need to do them with peace, abandonment and confidence in God. He will take care of them. He loves them much more than we ever could.