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Faith tested in fire

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls.  - I Peter 1:3-9

This was what I heard last night as I gathered with friends for Vespers - Catholic prayers in the early evening.  I needed to hear it - I heard it - I just don't wanna do it.

Who wants to suffer - at all - let alone over and over again, even if we are promised glorious and indescribable joy?  That joy seems so far off in the future, and the suffering, well, here I am, mired in it.  The "pay-off" it seems, just isn't worth it.

Ever have those moments where you're driving home, and you look at the gas tank to see how far you can run away on the gas you have?  Maybe you haven't.  I have.  I had this moment on Friday, as a matter of fact.  For better or worse, I only had a 1/4 tank, and no money, so I wasn't going to get very far.  And even if I could run away, the suffering would follow.

Instead, I had a little bitty breakdown on Saturday, and had the good sense to call a friend who is both a therapist and a Franciscan Sister (really, everyone should know at least ONE sane mental health professional).  She listened, then told me to take a hot bath, go for a walk and sit in God's presence for a bit, although not necessarily pray, just sit.  I did - I figured if Sister told me, I had to.  I sure wouldn't have done it on my own - I was just a big ball of slobbery mess at that point.  And I'm glad I did.  Moving around, acknowledging God - it helped.  It didn't fix anything, but it helped.

So back to Peter.  He knew, perhaps better than any of us, that Christ really is with us in suffering, and that the only faith worth having is that which has been tested, and tested by fire, at that.  Peter, lest we forget, abandoned Christ.  Peter refused to acknowledge Him.  Peter ran away, just like I wanted to on Friday night, with the fire licking at his heels.

But he came back.  He relied on that faith, he rejoiced in Christ's promise of inheritance.  I will soon as I beat back the flames.


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