I remember a few years ago, standing in the Southwest Airlines ticket line at the San Antonio airport. My husband and I were eagerly awaiting our flight to a family get-together.
But our mood was disturbed as a woman furiously pulled her luggage into the line behind us. From her loud phone conversation, we immediately knew that her flight home had been cancelled due to tornado warnings elsewhere. After hanging up, she began spewing expletives into our shared air, seemingly unaware of the folks around her.
My annoyance turned to sadness for this woman, when she (angrily) revealed to an agent that she had an ill family member at home, with whom she needed to be present.
Whether by a trip to the airport, the grocery store, a walk around our neighborhood, or even staying home and scrolling the Internet, it’s easy to see how chaotic our lives can become. People get sick, accidents happen, tasks need accomplishing, not to mention injustices in our communities…
As life piles up, how can we maintain peace and trust in God?
At several points in the Gospel, Jesus’ disciples think they’ve got it made. We get it now, they say. We understand you and your message now!
But Jesus hands them a reality check:
Do you believe now?
Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived
when each of you will be scattered to his own home
and you will leave me alone.
But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but take courage, I have conquered the world.
Sometimes when we feel strong in faith, we get a reality check: something doesn’t go according to plan, and we panic.
Waving the White Flag?
Look at our first pope, Peter.
- As guards arrested Jesus, Peter fought back; cutting off a man’s ear!
- Afterwards, he tried to escape the situation; denying three times that he ever knew Jesus.
- At the Crucifixion, Peter was nowhere to be found.
What happened to Peter later in life, so that he finally had peace amid chaos? How was he finally able to “take courage” and face his own persecutors and death?
Peter learned to surrender.
That word invokes negative connotations. “Surrender” seemingly epitomizes weakness… and who wants to be weak? Yet, the centrality of surrender amid suffering is the message that Peter hammers home in his letters, which are now books of our Bible (1 and 2 Peter).
Why surrender? My spiritual director once instructed me to read a spiritual classic: Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, by Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade. Its author directly addresses our desire to fight or escape God’s will:
If that which God Himself chooses for you does not content you, from whom do you expect to obtain what you desire? If you are disgusted with the meat prepared for you by the divine will itself, what food would not be insipid to so depraved a taste? No soul can be really nourished, fortified, purified, enriched, and sanctified except in fulfilling the duties of the present moment. What more would you have? As in this you can find all good, why seek it elsewhere? Do you know better than God? As he ordains it thus why do you desire it differently? Can His wisdom and goodness be deceived?
Wow. In what we could call the “School of Surrender,” the first step to maintaining peace is to see my daily life as a personalized gift from an All-Good, All-Loving, Most-Wise and All-Powerful God.
If my day is filled with challenges, I have to trust that I’ve been offered resources & graces tailor-made to overcome those challenges. As my day is peppered with good things, surrendering means trusting that God has also willed those good things exactly for me at that moment.
What a source of joy!
Here at the Pilgrim Center of Hope, we deal with a number of challenges. Amidst them all, we gather each day in Gethsemane Chapel with our CEO (the Lord Jesus). We begin with a Consecration to the Holy Spirit recommended by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller. We pray, “O Holy Spirit… I surrender myself to You…”
Let’s make an effort to address our own daily ways of “fighting” or “escaping from” the everyday situations entrusted personally to us by our loving, Heavenly Father. What will we choose to do; complain? drag our feet? ignore some duty that we know is best for us? escape through many hours of entertainment?
Instead of complaining, let’s choose to praise God: “Thank you, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, for being with me at this moment.”
Instead of dragging our feet, let’s stand confidently in the graces that God has given us.
Instead of ignoring our duty, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to turn our eyes to face what is before us with courage.
Instead of escaping, let’s ask Jesus to take us by his hands that were pierced as a promise of his love and constant presence.
Come, Holy Spirit. Help me to find peace in surrender.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.
Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate since 2010. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.