The desert. It’s hot, unbearable, and extreme. Two years ago, I was blessed to have gone on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the Pilgrim Center of Hope. From Galilee, we traveled by motorcoach through the Judean Desert to Jerusalem. The heat of the Judean Desert was hotter than any south Texas summer day! After leaving the Jordan River, we drove through the desert to Jericho. As we drove, I stared out the window at the horizon that looked so desolate, hot, and dry. It was mysterious and scary. I wondered what it might have been like for Jesus during his 40 days in the desert being tempted by the devil.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.” Matthew 4: 1-2
We humans would be uneasy with the idea of being in the desert, alone and powerless against the elements and the unknown. Although my example is literal, we also have figurative desert experiences. Perhaps it is an illness, a loss, a temptation, or any unbearable situation that makes us feel completely alone, uncomfortable, or that we simply can’t control. This is where hope comes in.
What is Hope?
“Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit… (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1817)
“…it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude… (CCC, no. 1818)
A few years ago, my husband and I discovered we were expecting our third child. At our first sonogram visit, the doctor told us that there was an abnormal image. He stated that it could be a spot in the image itself or an indication that our child could have lung or other developmental issues. We’d see a specialist every two weeks during the pregnancy to monitor the baby. Each day my husband and I talked to each other about it, we talked to the baby, and we prayed–always trusting that this was God’s will and not ours. So many times, each day I asked God to get us through the pregnancy and to care for our baby; we hoped with all our might. Through the grace of God and many prayers, the abnormal spot was gone and never came back. All tests were normal and we went on to deliver our third, healthy, beautiful baby boy.
Our hope was what truly carried us through the pregnancy. Hope gets us all through our own deserts.
As Christians, we are equipped with the virtue of hope. Our hope is like a help-line where we can humbly ask our Lord to help us persevere through our desert. Hope nourishes our soul to get us through a day, an hour, and sometimes a minute at a time.
Call to Action
We can never avoid our desert nor should we want to because crossing the desert strengthens our faith. It reinforces our trust in God, especially in times when we don’t know where the next step will take us. Below are some practical first steps that have helped me find hope, that will hopefully help you, too:
- Pray often. It could start with a rosary, a chaplet or simply having a conversation with God. He loves you and wants to hear from you often.
- When worry sets in, offer it up. “Offer it up”, a topic worthy of its own blog, is essentially uniting our pain or suffering to Jesus’ suffering on the cross for the salvation of souls. It’s fascinating, read about it!
- Help others who are in their desert. In other words, offer hope. You can do this by praying for them or supporting them in a meaningful way.
With the gift of stigmata and as the patron saint of stress relief, St. Pio of Pietreclina, better known as “Padre Pio”, gave the best encouragement in his motto that we all could follow:
“Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”
Christina Campos is a blessed Catholic wife and mother. Each day brings adventurous memories and so many reasons to be thankful to God. She enjoys volunteering and contributing to the special mission of the Pilgrim Center of Hope.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.