It’s only human to compare the challenges and difficulties in our personal lives to the highlights of others. We feel envious on social media seeing the supposedly glamorous lives our friends lead. It seems like all my friends are enjoying perpetual vacations and attend parties every day. Meanwhile, I’m working long hours and need to pay yet another high water bill. I think, “it’s just not fair!” Why do good things happen to everyone except me?
When I pray the rosary, the same thoughts come into my head when I pray the Second Luminous and the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery. When I meditate on the Miracle at Cana I ask God to bless those with the miracles they need (or at least I think they need). Maybe a family member or loved one needs the miracle of healing. Maybe someone needs the miracle of repairing a broken relationship. Maybe someone needs a miracle of steady employment. But instead, I often feel like God answers these requests with a cross. Instead of a miracle like at Cana, He gives us a cross like Jesus in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery.
It seems unfair that God has these two sides. On one hand, He is capable of miraculous acts of healing and blessings of good fortune. But on the other hand, it feels like He’s leaving us on our own to struggle under our crosses. Why does God give me a cross when I need a miracle? We believe that God hears and answers our prayers. We pray the Memorare with the promise of Mary’s intercession. But where are my miracles? Why don’t I see God stepping into my life to help me through life’s challenges?
The nature of God’s intervention and His miracles can be seen in Jesus’ Passion. When Jesus carried His cross, there were in fact miracles taking place. The fact that Jesus found the strength to get back up and carry the cross to His crucifixion is a miracle. It’s miraculous that Jesus forgave the people who crucified Him before He died. Think of the Centurian who said, “Truly He was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54). How many others came to believe in Jesus on that sorrowful day? That seems rather miraculous to me. And of course, when you take the long view as God does, Jesus’ Passion led to His resurrection, the empowerment of His disciples by the Holy Spirit, and eventually the spread of Christianity around the globe.
The same principle applies to our lives. While we might see endless hardship, we may overlook that God gives us the strength to endure another day. That is another day to do good, to help others, and pray for those who need it (like souls in Purgatory). It is another day to receive God’s forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It’s another day to receive our Lord through the Eucharist. In essence, every day God gives us the miracle of time. And that time is an opportunity to bring ourselves closer to God.
I know we all want the overt miracles like the changing of water to wine at Cana. And we bemoan hardships like a natural disaster, sickness, losing a job, poor finances, etc. But those hardships are just the results of physics, chemistry, biology, economics, etc. They aren’t things that God necessarily needs to save or relieve us from. In the long view that God takes, they will pass much like how Jesus’ pain in carrying the cross passed. We may bend, we may fall, but if we stay close to God, He won’t allow us to break. God leads us through all our challenges if we have the faith to let Him. And when all is done in this life, we can stand before God and He will welcome us into His Kingdom of Heaven. And that is truly miraculous.
I’ll leave you with the words from a famous poem, Footprints in the Sand. I think it sums up nicely that God does perform miracles in the hardest parts of our lives even when we don’t know it.
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you. Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”