In a world so full of social and political turmoil and immense human suffering, people of faith will often be ridiculed because of their so-called ineffectiveness. Many will say: “If you believe that there is a loving God, let your God do something about this mess!” Some will simply declare religion irrelevant, while others will consider it an obstacle to the creation of a new and better world.
Jesus often tells his followers that, as he was, they will be persecuted, arrested, tortured, and killed. But he also tells us not to worry but to trust in him at all times. “Make up your minds not to prepare your defence, because I myself shall give you an eloquence and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to resist or contradict” (Luke 21:14-15). Let’s not be afraid of scepticism and cynicism coming our way, but trust that God will give us the strength to hold our ground…
When we are anxious we are inclined to over prepare. We wonder what to say when we are attacked, how to respond when we are being interrogated, and what defence to put up when we are accused. It is precisely this turmoil that makes us lose our self-confidence and creates in us a debilitating self-consciousness.
Jesus tells us not to prepare at all and to trust that he will give us the words and wisdom we need. What is important is not that we have a little speech ready but that we remain deeply anchored in the love of Jesus, secure about who we are in this world and why we are here. With our hearts connected to the heart of Jesus, we will always know what to say when the time to speak comes.
I have to keep reminding myself of the truth of this… If ever there was a man who was inclined to “over prepare” it’s me. I find it so hard to trust that God trusts me enough to put his words into my mouth, his love in my heart, however often he does it. As usual, I don’t even really know how to pray about this – but, as usual, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8.26)
Why is it so hard to trust that God has our backs in everything, and that whatever happens to us in human terms, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8.28)?
It was St. Faustina Kowalska who wrote in her diary the words she heard from Jesus, “Proclaim that mercy is the greatest attribute of God.” And it was she too who wrote, “I do not understand how it is possible not to trust in God, who can do all things. With God, everything; without God, nothing.”
God’s mercy in Christ, his provision for each of us, is absolute. If only we could learn to trust him, even the darkest days, and death itself, would be redeemed by that mercy, given back to us as treasures of darkness, as he promised to the prophet Isaiah:
I will give you the treasures of darkness
and riches hidden in secret places,
so that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
the God of Israel, who call you by your name.