Saints aren’t born perfect.
Rather, they are perfected through their perseverance in the ups and downs of this life. Setbacks and challenges are part of our Christian walk and we shouldn’t be surprised when we encounter them.
St. Peter exhorted the early Christians: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you”1. These words are very heartfelt, coming from Peter. It was Peter who was surprised on Good Friday when our Lord was taken captive. It was Peter who reacted rashly that day and eventually denied Jesus three times. He was surprised. He had fallen into the assumption that to follow Jesus meant an easy and unchallenged life. Peter was surprised, and he didn’t want the first Christians, or us, to fall into the same predicament.
We experience challenges each day as disciples of Jesus. Maybe it is the most ordinary of setbacks, like our grades or the project that we are working on. Maybe it is in our family or with one of our friends. Maybe it is with the people we are trying to evangelize, or our lack of virtue or even feeling dryness in our own spiritual life. This is normal, not strange. In fact, it is the way God promised it would be. So what can we do about it? I want to propose four ways to fight off these surprises.
Stop and Pray
We need to develop a supernatural outlook of the events of our life. The only way we can achieve this supernatural outlook is by going to our loving Father and asking him for insights into what is going on. We know and believe that God loves each one of us personally and is only allowing this setback in our life for our good. We need to talk to him about what it is he is doing in and through this event in our life.
Consult a Friend
“A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter, he who has found one has found a treasure” (Sirach 6:14). Our friends can help us see things we can’t see. In moments, when we are going through setbacks, we need a good friend to help us see what God is doing in our life. The Scriptures remind us that “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” 2.
Hope’s foundation is found in our memories of what God has done throughout salvation history and in our personal life. When we are going through challenges in our daily life, we should take time to remember God’s faithfulness to us. This will help us to see that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new with every morning” 3.
Take the Next Step
We are either going forward or backward in our spiritual lives. Therefore, after we have established this hope, we need to take steps toward God to overcome the obstacle before us. The words of St. Josemaría Escrivá are helpful: “Let us not forget it: when fulfilling the divine Will, you can get over obstacles, or under them… or you can go round them. But… they can be overcome!”4 We may not know exactly how we will overcome the challenge before us, but we can be confident that by God’s grace we will get through it.
Remember: being a saint is not easy, but the struggle is worth it. Let us fight off our daily surprises and live with the courage and joy of sons and daughters of God.