Evaluating your faith

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It seems that many people I've dealt with lately are overwhelmed with problems. You think you have abundant faith when things are going well, but when disasters occur, your ability to cope becomes exhausted.

One man had been attempting to sell his house so he could move to a new job, and the deal fell through right before the financial closing date. "It's one trouble after another lately. I think I've got one problem solved when another comes up. It's been this way for quite awhile now. Nothing is working out."

I tried to reassure him, but it was a difficult task. The good part about his dilemmas was that although his goals and aspirations were not panning out right then, everyone in the family was healthy. Like everyone else, he could not see the positive because of the onslaught of negatives.

In listening to and trying to help sort out answers for people I have to take a step backward to see what is underneath it all. God only knows. I was becoming somewhat overwhelmed myself because various family members were becoming ill and required my attention. I also had lots to do in the near future and like almost everyone feels sometimes, I, too, felt I was coming to my rope's end. I thought of my upcoming summer events and wondered how I could work all my activities in during that short span before fall.

Other people are experiencing overwork and burnout at their jobs. They crave a getaway, but plans for a much-needed vacation refuse to come together. It appears to me like everybody is dealing with negative happenings all at once. I recall Job.

I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. "All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). One only needs to be patient and search within himself and his life for the answers. Ask yourself what is most important to you. Is your pride causing your distress, disquiet over material possessions, impatience, rejection, illness or desire for recognition and acclaim?

Anxiety over things that affect the good of one's family is a worthy reason to be concerned, but God tells you to not worry, he will take care of everything. "For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).

When I am subjected to more than I believe I can handle, I tell myself that I can face anything for a minute, a day or a week. That's all I have to do. Then eventually the occurrences I am going through are over. When I have genuine faith, I conserve my energy. I sleep better and I try to leave the control to God. There is little I need to change when the Creator has a better plan. "Fear not little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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