14 December, Wednesday – Trusting Jesus when the Future Looks Bleak

Dec 14 – Memorial for St. John of the Cross, priest, religious, doctor of the Church

St. John (1675–1726) was born in poverty. He cared for the poor in the hospital in Medina. He became a lay Carmelite brother in 1563 at age 21, though he lived stricter than their Rule. He studied at Salamanca. He was ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25.

He was persuaded by St. Teresa of Avila to begin the Discalced (or barefoot) reform within the Carmelite Order, and took on the name John of the Cross. He was a master of novices, and spiritual director and confessor at St. Teresa’s convent. His reforms did not sit well with some of his brothers, and he was ordered to return to Medina. He refused and was imprisoned at Toledo, Spain, and escaped after nine months.

He was vicar-general of Andalusia. His reforms revitalized the Order. He was a great contemplative and spiritual writer. On Aug 24, 1926, he was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI.

  • Patron Saint Index

Is 45:6-8,18,21-25

Lk 7:19-23

“Are you the one who is to come, or must we wait for someone else?”

During our bleakest moments in life, it is only natural for our circumstances and moods to cast a negative pall over our firmest beliefs, even over our trust in God. John’s imprisonment in today’s gospel must have had such a depressive effect, that he started to doubt that Jesus was the Messiah. This might sound incredulous, coming from a man who had seen the descending dove and heard God’s voice proclaiming Jesus as His beloved Son. If John the Baptist could have a wavering faith, it could happen to anyone of us. John’s gloomy prison thoughts may teach us how much our faith may be affected by externals and by changing tempers of mind, and how lenient, therefore, should be our judgments of many whose trust may falter when a strain comes.

Since the beginning of 2022, I’d left my corporate job to be a full-time trader. For those who are kept abreast of market developments, 2022 might have been one of the worst periods in recent years for any investor or trader. Global economies are faltering amid weakening demand due to heightened inflation, rising interest rates and supply disruptions. The Federal Reserve is hiking rates in unprecedented fashion akin to the 1980s, while tensions among nations are rising; not to mention the ongoing war in Ukraine that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Households have been grappling with soaring costs worsened by supply chain snarls, snap lockdowns in China and rocketing energy prices. Almost all central banks are digging in their heels on plans to continue raising interest rates and most economists have favoured the likelihood of a recession, if they’re not already in one. The stream of dour economic predictions had companies either freezing hiring or laying off workers, with the latest retrenchments coming from Meta and Twitter. Joblessness, the loss of livelihood, or health issues can make our future hopes seem irreparably compromised. People suffering scores of setbacks have begun to wonder if there will ever be a new horizon for them in their future. They have felt so kicked while they were down, unfavoured over time, that they believe their future is bleak. In such instances, God may seem distant and uninvolved. The thought of a loving and caring God involved in the business of delivering us from of our predicaments seems to be a myth. So how do we trust God when the future looks so bleak?

Everyone of us has struggled through real personal pain at some point in time. In every moment of our lives, we are presented with an option – to trust or not to trust in the goodness and transcendent plans of God. By opting for the latter, we are essentially letting go of the only lifeline we had and saying to God that “from now onwards, whatever that happens to me is none of your business”. That is an extremely fearful prospect and the worst choice to take when one is losing hope in the future. In Proverbs 3:5, it is written “Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”.  In times of despair, our understanding is shaped by negativity in the media and worldly perceptions. We may not have adequate knowledge to navigate out of darkness on our own. If we truly believe in an almighty God that transcends reality, then our faith should give us a persevering perspective over our problems and disappointments. By professing our faith in difficult times, we are placing our confidence in a God who understood more than our little minds ever could. In this temporal moment of pain, let us believe that God has a plan for everyone of us, and that plan is infinitely good.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Dylan Tan)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, just as you were with your disciples in the midst of the stormy seas, we pray that you’ll always be with us through our storms in life. Help us to trust that you will rise up and calm the raging seas when the time is right. Strengthen our faith so that we may walk with you through good times and bad. May you shower your comfort upon us and give us the peace that transcends all understanding. Amen.     

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for being with us every single moment of our lives and guiding us through the darkest valleys of our lives.

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