Sunday, February 26, 2012

Why Is My Life So Hard?

My prayer each morning is that of St. Francis: Make me an instrument of Thy peace. And into my life have come my aged mom, a very ill friend and her worried relatives, unemployed neighbors, and decisions about how to best use the money I have control over. And then there are all the other people who are part of my life, friends, family, and those who just know of my life --- like you; so many people to bring me joy, and potential burdens and worries. And so what do I make of this life of mine? It almost seems that God has very much blessed my life, answering my prayers to be His servant by giving me so many opportunities to serve.

Yet, with all these thoughts about my life, of course this morning the one thing I thought to pray --- AGAIN! --- was: Lord, Why is my life so hard?

I want to live the example He set, as Paul says, “So that we can proclaim with you, ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,’” and yet I want that life without feeling its burdens, because they feel so heavy. And I felt frustrated at myself for being so weak. And then I read some of the readings of the day ….

He divided the sea and led them through …
He split the rocks in the desert.
Yet still they sinned against him.
In their heart they put God to the test
by demanding the food they craved.
It was he who struck the rock,
water flowed and swept down in torrents.
But can he also give us bread?
Can he provide meat for his people?

Psalm 78

I think my life is hard, but then I read of the Jews in Egypt, a life much harder than mine. And look what happened: God answered their every prayer, for their needs and for their wants, and what was the result of His blessings: They wanted more! The Jews were promised a land of milk and honey, and they desired it: now.

And so I thought some on “my hard life,” and all the prayers that have been answered for me. Do I really need more? I pray that I not have to bear the sorrow of my mom and friend dying --- I forget that He promised they won’t, not forever. I pray that I be an instrument of His, and that I learn that it is in giving that I receive --- and I will. My problem in prayer is often like that of the Jews, I yearn for all that Jesus promised me: only I want it now. And then I realized something else, how prominent that word “I” was in my prayers --- again. Like the Jews, my prayers are so often about what “I” want, and when I want it: now. And the prayers He answered for me, when I look at them, were not about I, but all the other children who He asked me to love, who He brought into my life so that I might serve Him.

And then I read more:

We know that we have never wholly striven
Forgetting self, to love the other man.
Free every heart from pride and self-reliance …
Teach us, good Lord, to serve the needs of others,
Help us to give and not to count the cost,
Unite us for we are born as brothers.

Morning Hymn

In the secret of my heart teach me wisdom. Psalm 51

Prayer and converse with God is a supreme good; it is a partnership and union with God. I do not mean the prayer of outward observance but prayer from the heart, not confined to fixed times or periods but continuous throughout the day and night.
Our spirit should be quick to reach out toward God, not only when it is engaged in meditation; at other times also, when it is carrying out its duties, caring for the needy, performing works of charity, giving generously in the service of others, our spirit should long for God and call him to mind, so that these works may be seasoned with the salt of God’s love.

From a homily by St. John Chrysostom, bishop

These readings seemed an answer to my moans about my hard life. They showed me my life is really no harder than others’. They showed me that many have lived much harder lives than mine. And they showed me that my prayers for “me”, even if answered, won’t satisfy me. As long as my prayer is focused on me, I will never find satisfaction in this life. And in the words of the readings I saw the secret to wisdom and happiness, “forgetting self, to love the other man.” And then I read the words on prayer by St. John Chrysostom, and they made total sense. If I want happiness, I’ll pray for the other man. It is my ego that stands in the way of my loving my neighbor, because I have too much love of myself.

This is Lent, a time of fasting and sacrifice, not prayers that we have none. This is a time to pray that our life on earth might be lived as Jesus led His life on earth, not that our time here might be like His in heaven. We will have that heavenly peace He promised, a land of milk and honey, but not now. Now is our time in the desert. The sooner we can accept that, the sooner we will find a measure of happiness here --- even in our sorrows and trials. Together, with our neighbors, we can lighten each other’s burdens on our path to eternity. We can pray for each other, and support each other, and love each other.

My life is hard, just as His was. This is truly a blessing.


  1. Ah, so true! You say the ego gets in the way, and it does, and it feeds on all the distractions of the world; it is at times like a magnet, attracting all the 'worldliness' to us because our ego wants it that way; it needs to be fed. Christ showed us that we cannot live on bread alone...thank you for a splash of cold water.

  2. During most of my life I felt that my life was not only hard, but harder than most others. I didn't have a relationship with God, except a vague attraction to the Holy Spirit. So I had no source for strength or comfort. My secular life wasn't fulfilling. It didn't even occur to me to talk to God about it.

    My view is different now, thanks to God's unfathomable graces. This is truly our time in the desert. Some say we're on probation. I prefer to think of it as our journey through a strange, strange land.

  3. Your posts are truly a blessing when I am feeling downtrodden, thank you so much for writing.

  4. Oh, my friends, I think I hear a bit of "Misery loves company" in all your comments. Ain't that the truth?!! But I guess I prefer to write the same thought this way: "My pains are eased when I know I am not alone."

    We are each God's presence in this world, to each other. Kam you said it right, but our ego gets in the way. Maryellen, you DID state it correctly when you implied your life was harder than most others --- perhaps it is in some ways; perhaps it is for each of us in some unique ways, but it is our unique journey. We trust in its conclusion in a "land of milk and honey." And Glenna, I'm glad God can use me in some small way to lift your day.

    We all need to remember, sometimes, the title to this blog.

  5. Hi Tom,
    One thing that helps me is to stop and ponder how I would feel if my life was pleasant and easy and yet I professed to love a crucified Savior. How could I really contemplate His Suffering and Death, and then go about my merry way. I couldn't...and I don't think any of us really would enjoy such a life very long.

    Once in awhile, I have a brief period without any storms of life, and I find myself a bit uneasy. It just doesn't seem "normal."

    And, without our sorrows and pains, how often would we run to His Heart?
    Suffering is no fun, but there is something sweet hidden within it, if we bear it with our eyes on Jesus.

    Blessings and peace,

    1. I often wonder how Mother Teresa did it, seeing the pain and suffering day after day, and outside of a smile, not making any of it go away. And I look at my life and think: my pains are nothing compared to what she bore up with. Patricia, I have had many, many blessings in my life, many "good times" when I knew God was truly blessing me, and wanting me to be happy. I appreciate those days. But I'm no more saintly than the next man in finding it sometimes hard to bear up to sufferings, and strangely I find it more difficult to bear witness to others' sufferings than bearing pain myself. I wish I could heal others' sufferings, oh not their pains, but their mental anguish. I wish I could bring them God's peace.

      I'll have an opportunity to do that this week, with His blessings. I pray I am up to His challenges.

      Blessings to you, and all you hold dear.

  6. So have things changed are you trying to convince yourself have changed

  7. Ah, my friend, things HAVE changed. If you were to look at my most recent posts, my dear mother recently died. A blessing for her, for her pain and sufferings in this life are over. A blessing for me (??) since my trials of caring for her are over?? I think not, for no loved one's passing is perceived as a blessing, yet in some ways it is. My life, one I sometimes viewed as so hard, has reached a new phase. I will have new challenges, some new happiness, some new sadness. But it is in accepting both that I grow in holiness, in accepting this life given to me. It will never be without sorrows, but I must remember, it will also never be without joys. We all so often focus on the sadness and the stresses. My mother has just died, but I am able to accept this as God's will for her --- and for me. In my sadness, there will be joy. This I believe.

    This we must all believe, or else wallow in our sadness ---- alone.