In times of pain and confusion, Jesus offered a routine to keep us going.
Posted in , Sep 14, 2016
I took a walk in the park with a friend who is in deep grief. She commented, “I’m grateful the Catholic Church requires me to go to mass on Sunday, for otherwise I probably wouldn’t go.”
I get that. When the heart is consumed by pain, structure helps keep our feet on the right path. It’s hard to think, to make good choices, to make even the tiniest decision in the midst of suffering. It’s hard to pray in your own words. It’s hard to do anything except hurt.
That evening I re-read the chapters of John where Jesus talks to the confused disciples prior to his arrest. I am fond of those passages because they illustrate how clueless the apostles sometimes were, even though they literally walked with the Lord daily. I love how Jesus sensed his friends’ insecurity, how he knew that in the dark times ahead they would wonder if they are loved, would wonder what they were supposed to do, would wonder how to cope. He promised comfort, but he also gave them marching orders on what to do when life is painful and confusing:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
“He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me…” (John 14: 21)
“If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him.” (John 14:23)
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (John 15:10)
“You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14)
When life is bleak, when we are scared, when we don’t know what to do, when we grieve and flail about, when we wonder if God truly loves us, this is what we need to know: “Keep my commandments.”
When keeping our eye on the prize feels impossible because we are blinded by anguish, we can still focus on “Keep my commandments.”
When the suffering feels endless and we are overwhelmed, we can rest in “Keep my commandments.” We do know what to do. After all, Jesus told us, himself.