Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We have toiled all night...

Today's Mass readings spoke clearly to me and my present situation. I have been working very hard to provide for my family, facing set back after set back, sometimes with a hopeful heart and sometimes hanging my head in discouragement because what I provided just wasn't enough to cover all that I needed.  I can't provide the guitar that my son needs for school, I'm behind on my rent, my phone, and my electric and the paycheck just won't stretch any further.  It has been by the grace of God that I have gotten through each day with gas and groceries through the small amount of tips that carry-out orders bring. Sometimes I come home with $3 which has bought us eggs and a loaf of bread or, as yesterday, with $10 that puts gas in the tank for the next few days.  It has been a very humbling experience for me.

Yet, as I reflected on it yesterday, I took the time to thank God for the many things He had shown me while we were struggling this way. Even though I have often grumbled, complained, and shed tears over where we are, in calmer moments I know that we are better off for what God has allowed us to go through. Because I have no bed to sleep in, I appreciate that simple gift of being able to sleep in a soft and comfortable bed beside my husband. Because I am often reliant upon the money I receive from tips to feed my family for the day, I am more conscious of the value of a dollar than I ever have been at any time in my life. I know that $5 can buy a loaf of bread ($1), a 12 pack of Raman noodles ($2), and a dozen eggs ($2) - enough for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 3 people with some left over if each person has 2 pieces of toast and 2 eggs for breakfast and 2 packs of Raman noodles for lunch and dinner. I know that happiness isn't a function of what you have, but a function of how you look at life. I have greater compassion than I ever did for those who are struggling, and because I am much better at managing my finances than I ever was in the past I know that when I do get back into a better situation than I am now, I will be able to do all the good things that I wanted to do but wasn't able to 2 years ago.

Today, God spoke to me in the readings. In Luke chapter 5, Peter and the other disciples have been struggling all night to find fish.  They have worked hard. They are exhausted, and they have nothing to show for their efforts.  Then, Jesus comes along.  He asks them to take Him out to the middle of the lake so that He can teach those on the shore.  In spite of their exhaustion, they do exactly as the Lord has asked them to do.  When Jesus is done preaching, He tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.  Peter reluctantly agrees, telling Jesus that he has been trying this stuff all night and he just knows it isn't going to work but he'll do it anyway because Jesus asked him to.  The haul they catch that day strains the nets. They have to get their friends to help haul it in to the boats.

What I heard from God in the midst of this is that sometimes He allows me to struggle alone with a problem so that when He finally delivers me, I will know it is His hand and not mine that have done the delivering. He allows me to experience defeat so that when the victory comes I know it comes from Him, and not from me. He allows me to be humbled so that when He exalts me I will know that He has earned the praise, not me.

Popular Posts