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Hard Spiritual Lessons

My evening prayers included this:

God, our loving Father, you forgive our every ill.
You forgive our guilt; lead us to mend our ways.
You fill our life with good things; fill us with love and mercy toward one another.
You remember we are dust; raise us with all our beloved dead to life in Christ.

All good - all hard.  We are guilty of sin against God and others, and we need forgiveness.  We need to be merciful to others - even when we don't want to.  We have to face our mortality, and the mortality of those we love.

Sometimes, it seems that ALL our spiritual lessons are hard ones.  At least that's the way I've been feeling lately.  Life itself is burdensome, and God seems far away.  Faith is a quickly unraveling string, and my hold is tenuous.

What to do?  I don't know what others do when they are close to despair, but I go through the motions.  I pray when I don't feel like praying.  I sing when my throat is parched.  I praise when my heart is heavy.  I call upon the Lord, even when I am sure He is so far away He couldn't possibly hear me.

I don't do it for God's sake.  He doesn't need a thing from me.  I do it for my sake, to remind my head what my heart knows: that my God is not only near, He is united with me in my suffering, as I try to unite myself to His.  I stand at the foot of His cross, and He stands at the foot of mine.  Even when I cannot go another step in faith, He bears me up.

Hard spiritual lessons.  I beg for mercy in the smallness of my faith.  I hold tight to that unraveling thread of faith, knowing that He holds the other end, and will not let me go.

Hard spiritual lessons.

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