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Does a dark cloud threaten to spoil your day at the beach? What struggles and sadness are you experiencing? What victories and joys are you celebrating?
Sometimes we hesitate to give our all to enjoy the high times because we fear a low cloud will dump a rainstorm on us. We know what’s to come. Eventually, our highs will suddenly or gradually sink to lows. What good are these highs and lows?
Our Church Fathers call the highs consolations and the lows desolations. Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J., a French Jesuit priest who died in 1751, wrote much about these highs and lows. A paragraph from his Abandonment to Divine Providence developed as the theme of a recent prayer meeting:
The alternation of light and darkness, of consolations and desolations, are as useful—are as indispensable, I would say—in the growing and the ripening of virtues in our souls as changes in the weather if crops are to grow and ripen in the fields. Learn, then, to resign yourself to them, and to accept ordeals no less lovingly than consolations. For even the most sorrowful of these ordeals, whether they come from God’s justice or his mercy, are equally just, blessed, adorable, lovable, and beneficial. Often his justice and mercy join in sending desolations nd them; but on this earth the operation of his justice is never wholly divided from his mercy.
What that reading talks about is that consolations and desolations are as necessary to our spiritual maturity as the changes in weather are to crops. For what the Lord wants to do with us, consolations and desolations are equally beneficial for the salvation of our souls, for the growing of our spirits, for forming us into the men and women of God that he calls us to be.
He promised that he is the Lord in the consolations and the desolations. He is with us. He’s given us his wisdom. He’s given us the word in our hearts that allows us to cry out, “Jesus is Lord.” He’s taught us that when we praise and worship him, that praise draws us into the inner chamber of his heart where he soothes us with words of love.
In the highs and the lows, we can come to him and dwell in him. We need not fear the circumstances of our lives, even our failures and failings. When we go through a spiritual desolation, even depression, because we feel like we can’t get ourselves in the place where God wants us, well, guess what? God has us in the place where God wants us. But we have to allow him to do his work in us.
Whether you are in a high or a low, no matter what the circumstances are in your life, no matter what the Lord is bringing you through, he’s there. You’re not going through them by yourself. He has given each of us to one another in the body of Christ, to go through the highs and lows together. With him we walk the walk, upholding one another in prayer. As baptized Christians, we experience the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the low points of our lives in a real and powerful way that proclaims to the world that Jesus is Lord – today, tomorrow, and forever. Amen!
When your highs become lows, what do you imagine will happen when you take them to the Lord and bear them with others in the body of Christ?
(© 2014 revised 2016 Nancy H C Ward)
Photo: Long Island Beach by Mauritz de Haas (Wikimedia Commons)