In the time of this pandemic, we are all experiencing trials—some more than others—but all of us in our own way. We have lost school, sports, and grandparent involvement in our children’s lives. Some have even lost jobs and homes. Judith 8:25 tells us that we should praise God for giving us trials and tests—let us give thanks to the Lord our God for putting us to the test as he did our ancestors—because God tests great people in the Bible, not out of anger, but out of love. When God allows trials, it provides us with an opportunity to suffer with him and thus grow in a new depth of holiness. God did not promise that our lives would be lived in comfort or that following him would always be easy. In fact, Jesus said that whoever wishes to follow him must take up his own cross to do so. There are no easy shortcuts to good things in life, and it is the same with following Christ. Our crosses are not always comfortable.
A priest friend of mine said to me recently that he had parishioners who told him that they did not want to come back in person to the Mass, not because of health reasons, but because right now it is difficult returning to Mass in person when you have to social distance, wear a mask, and explain to young children countless times that there will not be donuts after church for quite a while. It is a cross that many of us mothers carry every time we come to the church, but we do it to be able to receive our Lord and return to the highest form of worship. This and other hardships can weigh us down if we focus on the difficulty.
The good news is that, as Paul tells us, through all our hardships we will triumph, by the power of him who loved us. What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: “For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us (Rom 8:35-37). All the trials that we are experiencing during this time appear meaningless if we do not embrace all God has for us in this season. If, however, we choose to use them for the opportunity to grow closer to our Lord, then the Lord will use them to help us grow in holiness and for heavenly purpose!