2016 was an eventful year for me. A lot happened. There’s a handful of good things that came my way this year that I’m really thankful for like being able to go on a trip abroad to have some much needed bonding and quality time with my perpetually-busy family, being able to purchase a car without any parent’s subsidy, being healed from a sickness which could have had possibly lasting effects on my health, new personal best records and personal achievements unlocked. For these things, I can say that I was indeed blessed, cared for and loved by God. For these things, it was easy to be thankful.
But not so good things came my way as well, those which poured in and swept me away in 2016. When these not-so-good things came, they came like a deluge. One after another. And another. I encountered seemingly unending waves of setbacks, multiple hiccups and countless disappointments this year. I had daunting challenges at work, two minor car accidents (a damaged car at that, a stolen bag, wallet, and laptop), stress, lost court cases, thoughts of resigning from work, countless disagreements with the people I care for, a breakup, a loss of a dear friend. Add to these were continually not having enough time for sleep and not making ends meet. For these things that came my way, it was difficult to be thankful.
During these challenges and difficulties, I sometimes asked God, “Where are you?”
Times like these propel me to go on autopilot towards the clasps of Functional Atheism which means to act completely on my own and strike out God in the picture when the going got tough. I couldn’t wait for Him any longer; I’d just do things on my own. It seemed that I was saying, “Yes, Lord, I love You and we have a real relationship; but when You’re seemingly absent, I move as if I alone can save myself from this sinking ship.”
However, prayerfully looking back at 2016, I now realize that God was a silent worker during times of trials and difficulties. He was quietly present in my struggles, yearnings and tears. He was quietly present in the things I had to silently bear. He was quietly present in my journey to acceptance of the things I could not change. He was there.
I’ve always had difficulty with praying St Ignatius of Loyola’s Prayer for Generosity and actually meaning it. The prayer for me is quite disturbing as I find it challenging to grasp a prayer that willfully renounces my own liberty, my will, my life, my memory, and my possessions. For me, that’s just crazy.
Unexpectedly, it was through the difficult moments and experiences that I was able to finally understand St. Ignatius of Loyola. I was able to see that beneath this surrender and indifference to everything I have and am is a person’s confidence on the constant undercurrent of God’s interaction, love and grace. This surrender is born out of a deep trust and experience with God.
The invitation for me is a quiet, trusting patience when things are not going my way, to trust and hope that God’s undercurrents are on their way.
When good things come my way, I easily say, “Thank you, God.” I know now that when not-so-good things come my way, I can still also (or should) say, “Thank you, Lord.” I am certain that God is with me either way.
All I have for 2016 is gratitude for the eventful year that was. And for 2017, I am ready to meet my Lord again in the different circumstances I will face, good or difficult. More and more, I say with meaning: “Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.”