By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THAT rather amusing gospel story of the apostles frozen with fear when they were in the middle of a raging sea and saw a figure that later turned out to be Christ walking on the water (cfr. Mk 6,45-52) tells us what to do with our unavoidable fears and failures. We need to develop a healthy sense of abandonment in the ever solicitous providence of God over our life.
To be sure, Christ never fails us, though, again, his ways may not be what we expect or even want. What we have to do is to develop the habit of always referring everything to God, especially when we find ourselves in situations of fear and helplessness. He is always there for us.
We need to know how to handle and deal with our fears that are unavoidable in our life. Fear is an emotion that we need to educate also. It just cannot be on its own, guided only by our spontaneous judgments and reactions, and appearing when it’s not supposed to, and not appearing when it’s supposed to. It has to be grounded and oriented properly, expressing the sublimity of our dignity as persons and children of God.
Let’s remember that among the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the fear of the Lord. It’s the good and healthy fear of a child who is afraid to offend his father. It’s a filial fear, not a servile one. It’s one that, instead of being tempted to run away from God, would rather motivate one to get closer to him. It’s the fear of losing God, even if we may have offended him and have to do something to atone and repair.
With all the things that we have to contend with in this life, we certainly need to have a healthy sense of trust in God’s loving and wise providence, abandoning ourselves in his will and ways that often are mysterious to us and can appear to be contrary to what we would like to have.
A healthy spirit of abandonment in God’s hands is necessary even as we exhaust all possible human means to achieve our goals or simply to tackle all the challenges, trials and predicaments of our life. We should never forget this truth of our faith.
In this life, we need to acquire a good, healthy sporting spirit, because life is actually like a game. Yes, life is like a game. We set out to pursue a goal, we have to follow certain rules, we are given some means, tools and instruments, we are primed to win and we do our best, but losses can come, and yet, we just have to move on.
Woe to us when we get stuck with our defeats and failures, developing a loser’s mentality. That would be the epic fail that puts a period and a finis in a hanging narrative, when a comma, a colon or semi-colon would have sufficed.
We need a sporting spirit because life’s true failure can come only when we choose not to have hope. That happens when our vision and understanding of things is narrow and limited, confined only to the here and now and ignorant of the transcendent reality of the spiritual and supernatural world.
An indispensable ingredient of this healthy sporting spirit is the sense of acceptance and abandonment that we need to deliberately cultivate. This does not come automatically, as if it’s part of our genes. We have to develop them.