While “Thank God it’s Friday” (T.G.I.F.) is a common end-of-week cry of relief, it’s a rare person who welcomes Mondays with the same enthusiasm.
As you begin the new week you probably have some idea of what the next few days will bring for you. Perhaps there are some moments in the week ahead that you are looking forward to and people you are looking forward to spending time with. Chances are too that there are some people you hope not to meet, and situations you would rather avoid.
However if this next week follows the pattern of every other week for me, there will be some completely unexpected moments and encounters that suddenly and dramatically take centre stage, disrupting my plans and changing my perspective. This means that my Monday morning anticipations are usually far from the mark. Many of the things that I am anxious (or excited about) about may well not happen.
The key point to remember at the beginning of every new day is that while we will naturally prefer some circumstances over others, no circumstance that we can find ourselves in, however difficult, are a problem for God. Our experience also reminds us that our greatest desire is not simply for easy or positive circumstances, but to know that God is present with us and that we are loved in every moment. A happy life is not a life in which difficult or painful circumstances are avoided or ignored. Human happiness is found in whatever circumstances in which we experience love.
We all know people for whom everything has gone well, but their lives seem empty and sad. Others seem to have suffered one misfortunate after another, yet they radiate deep joy and hope.
I’m often inspired by the writing of Fr. Luigi Giussani, founder of the Ecclesial Movement Communion & Liberation. He addressed the importance of the circumstances that appear in front of us with a great challenge when he wrote:
“The circumstances through which God has us pass are an essential and not a secondary factor of the mission to which He calls us. If Christianity is the announcement of the fact that that Mystery has become flesh in a man, the circumstance in which one takes a position about this in front of the whole world is important for the very definition of witness”
Life is a dialogue.
“Life is not a tragedy. Tragedy is what makes everything amount to nothing. Yes, life is a drama. It is dramatic because it is the relationship between our I and the You of God, our I that must follow the steps which God indicates” It is this Presence, this You that makes circumstances change, because without this You everything would be nothing, everything would be a step toward an ever darker tragedy. But precisely because this You exists, circumstances call us to him. It is he who calls us through them. It is he who calls us to destiny through everything that happens.”
I find this deeply encouraging: The circumstances that I find myself in are simply the present reality where God is dwelling with me, therefore there is nothing I need fear. The temptation is to live in the past or the future, but the fact is the only moment I have is this present moment, and the reality of the moment. These present moments are a gift since they are the only place where I can truly live. People who focus on the past or the future usually miss the gift of the present – pun intended!
I pray that your week will be blessed that you might know the presence of God with you and the love of God for you in every circumstance of the week ahead.
NOTE: I’m offering a Lenten reflection session this Wednesday evening 8 March, 7.30-9.00pm at St. Gregory’s meeting room, 28 Cotswold Avenue, Bishopdale, Christchurch. (map here). This session will be helpful for any Christian seeking to grow in maturity of faith.
Thanks John. I found real comfort in this post, especially your reflection on the quote used…”The circumstances that I find myself in are simply the present reality where God is dwelling with me”. I enjoyed learning a little more about Father Giussani.
Amen Cushla! Giussani’s words have been a great encouragement for me – instead of fighting the circumstances, I am now learning to accept that the difficult circumstances are kind of like the stable awaiting the birth of the messiah…