“Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

- Pope Francis

When God says no

Mau Obon

By Mau Obon

YOU’VE been sick for quite a long time, and healing seems so slow in coming. You were also eyeing that promotion for 10 years, but you learned that your rival to the post is a newbie with the right connections. Oh, the child you have been dreaming of has not yet been delivered by the stork, and you’re afraid that your womb is expiring soon. In all these, you stormed the heavens. Said novenas to all the saints, gone on pilgrimages, lighted candles of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Yes, you did it all, you left no stone unturned. But, your latest medical result didn’t look promising. Then you heard from the grapevine that the newbie is secretly preparing to celebrate a “victory”. What “victory” was it, you weren’t told, but you knew in your gut what it’s all about. Of course, you just had your period, and so are menopausal signs.

Then one day, you browsed your Facebook and saw a testimony of a friend of a Facebook friend who got healed of a stage 4 breast cancer. According to her, she just prayed once at the Shrine of Miraculous Medal in Sabang and received the great news from her doctor a month later. You have been praying for healing for the last 5 years, and yours wasn’t even cancer. Browsing some more, you saw officemates got tagged in photos of newbie’s victory party for her promotion, with hashtag “blessed”. A few more posts later, you came across the status of your forty something friend who got married five months ago, an ultrasound photo of the babe inside her. You said “I do” when you were twenty and have been trying to conceive for the last twenty years.

So now what? You start entertaining thoughts that God does not exist. Else, if he does, He doesn’t love you. Your hands trembled, your eyes felt sore you can’t even cry. You accused God for being unfair. Then your mind started cooking up recipes on how to destroy your life in 10,000 ways. Why not you say. That friend who got pregnant in her forties had five intentional abortions.She was the mistress turned wife. The newbie who got promoted? She was hired three months ago, and she didn’t mind saying, “Morning na, sir” instead of “Good morning, sir”. Then you look back at the life you lived. You followed the rules to the letter and never missed your Catholic duties. Yet, you felt like God has forgotten you.

It’s ok to feel bad when prayers are unanswered, it’s normal. BUT holding on to resentment for so long won’t make life any better. When negative emotions overcome you, it will slowly seep into your actions. Remember though, that what happens in your life is shaped by what you do.

There’s a woman in the Bible who knows how to deal with life when God says no. She lived in those times when the Jews were overly concerned with purity. This fixationled the ancient Jews to cage themselves within walls of rigid rules and looked down on anyone who wasn’t as imprisoned as they were. In fact, any non-Jew for that matter was seen so beneath them that they called them dogs. Now this woman belonged to the ill-fated race, a Syrophoenician by birth, people so contemptible to the Jews that the latter can’t stand them.

She has a daughter who is suffering from possession of an unclean spirit. One day, she heard that a Jewish healer named Jesus, was in the district of Tyre and Sidon. Her desperation pushed her to face any possible atrocitythat may befall her because of her race. When she found him, her request was turned down by Jesus three times. First, she was ignored. Second, Jesus said she was unqualified to receive from him, she was not a Jew. Lastly, she was told that she had no right to those blessings. But she persevered. In the end, her Jesus healed her daughter.

What did this woman do to convince Jesus? This has nothing to do with how to “manipulate” God into giving in to our requests. This is about what this woman had, regardless of how God may answer our prayers. She showed us how to approach God with our needs. Through all the refusals, she just cried, knelt, and begged. No finger pointing, sulking, and giving up. Such was the humility and persistence of this woman. She did not also take offense at the canine comparison, she stretched it to her advantage. Indeed, she used the apparent rejections as stepping stones in pleading her cause. By sticking with the analogy, she acknowledged her unworthiness. With this mindset, she approached Jesus knowing that she can’t demand from him anything and that she was wholly dependent on his mercy.When we ask from God with this kind of attitude, how can we be mad at Him if He says no?

Likewise, she had a remarkable insight on the abundance of God’s grace, such that,she proclaimed that even the dogs will have scraps from the table. She had this kind of confidence that Jesus’ mercy will overflow to people like her. That there’s enough for everyone, even for the undeserving, shouldmake us think twice in comparing what we got from what others received.

Jesus’ love and mercy embraces the saints and sinners alike. He is a God who takes time to listen to his people’s pleas, even the unworthy. He doesn’t mind setting aside Jewish customs for the sake of love. As Pope Francis puts it, “God loves us in this way, with compassion and mercy. Jesus does not look at reality from the outside, without letting himself be moved, as if he were taking a picture. ”

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