Monday, July 11, 2005

In the time of ordeal, cling to what is certain

When the trials come, and they regularly do, and all around shakes and spins, comes and goes, distorts strangely and cannot be trusted, the only thing is to hang on tightly to the things that are certain, the things that are known to be true and do not change.

For me, that always seems to go back to the very first chapter of my very first religious education book in first grade, with the questions at the end of the chapter. The first questions: and still the most sure things.

Q. Who made me?
A. God made me.

Q. Why did God make me?
A. God made me to know him, and to love him, and to serve him, and to be happy with him forever and ever in heaven.

Where to cling when all else is failing. Sirach also had something to say about hanging on in the ordeal, in chapter 2 of his book:

My son, if you aspire to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for an ordeal.
Be sincere of heart, be steadfast,
and do not be alarmed when disaster comes.
Cling to him and do not leave him,
so that you may be honoured at the end of your days.
Whatever happens to you, accept it,
and in the uncertainties of your humble state, be patient,
since gold is tested in the fire,
and chosen men in the furnace of humiliation.
Trust him and he will uphold you,
follow a straight path and hope in him.
You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy;
do not turn aside in case you fall.
You who fear the Lord, trust him,
and you will not be baulked of your reward.
You who fear the Lord hope for good things,
for everlasting happiness and mercy.
Look at the generations of old and see:
who ever trusted in the Lord and was put to shame?
Or who ever feared him steadfastly and was left forsaken?
Or who ever called out to him, and was ignored?
For the Lord is compassionate and merciful,
he forgives sins, and saves in days of distress.
Woe to faint hearts and listless hands,
and to the sinner who treads two paths.
Woe to the listless heart that has no faith,
for such will have no protection.
Woe to you who have lost the will to endure;
what will you do at the Lord's visitation?
Those who fear the Lord do not disdain his words,
and those who love him keep his ways.
Those who fear the Lord do their best to please him,
and those who love him find satisfaction in his Law.
Those who fear the Lord keep their hearts prepared
and humble themselves in his presence.
Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, not into the hands of men;
for as his majesty is, so too is his mercy.


1 comment:

Julie D. said...

I love the book of Sirach and that is one of my favorite passages. So reassuring.