God is in the unexpected, and in the absurd. He speaks through many means, including the people around us, Scripture, events, and seemingly random occurrences.
For Elijah, God was in the whisper (1 Kings 19), not the raging tempest. God often uses the least likely candidates to do His will, choosing the youngest son, a shepherd boy, to be king (1 Samuel 16) and defeat a giant (1 Samuel 17), the barren, post-menopausal Sarai to be the mother of nations (Genesis 21), the elderly, barren Elizabeth and the young virgin Mary to be the mothers of the Forerunner and of the Messiah (the Gospels). Most notably, He used the crucifixion and death of His own Son to heal us of our sin and death (Gospels). And He uses our circumstances today to draw us closer to Himself.
By His doing things this way, it can be easier for us to see that it’s God acting through people and events, and to tell the difference between the instrument of God and God Himself. This awareness can help us do our own job – praising God and giving credit where it’s due.
God is not so “flashy”. Even though He is good all the time, we don’t always recognize His goodness. Like with the whisper, we have to pay attention to “catch” Him being good, and to find His fingerprints in our lives. Recognizing His voice is not always easy. Seeing His fingerprints sometimes (often?) requires a sleuthing cap and a magnifying glass (Ignatian Spirituality has some good, in-depth guidance on this topic, if you’re interested. I also recommend this resource on prayer).
So, day to day, how do we recognize God’s actions and voice in our moments of grief and pain? How do we see His fingerprints when our eyes are blinded by tears? Practice. We practice looking for Him, all day, every day. Personally, the more I thank Him, the more I can see His hand in my life. From minor things like the dog nuzzling me when I need a boost, to major things like a relative miraculously surviving when their death seemed certain, God’s fingerprints are all over my life, and yours, too.
I have had a chronic illness, for seven years now. My illness was unexpected and derailed my life and my plans. At one point, bedridden and stupid from fatigue, I was proud to merely finish a digital jigsaw puzzle. At that lowest point, I hated my illness and was full of impotent anger, which I misdirected every time I had the energy and opportunity. Now, though, I see this debilitating illness as a blessing, a gift from God. Now, I love my life and have accepted my limitations. Oh, I still dislike them, get frustrated, and grieve my old life, plans, and dreams, but I have also accepted this is God’s will for me at this time. The opportunity to heal what needed healing in me and knowing God better and more intimately through my grief, pain, and healing – these are irreplaceable, priceless gifts.
When I say as much in public, the looks I get are also priceless. Who expects someone with a total and permanent disability to be grateful for it? Who even looks for a blessing in a place of pain, weakness, and debility?
A person of faith. Someone who knows God is there in every circumstance, who says “rejoice” with St. Paul (Philippians 4:4), and someone who is learning that God can and will use anything and everything to the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), not just in the good times, but in the bad times, too. After all, this is God, who used the Babylonian Captivity to teach His children who He is and how to be faithful! His beautiful fingerprints are all over salvation history, and our personal salvation histories.
Practice looking for them this Lent.
Look for them where you don’t expect to see them. Look both in what happens and what doesn’t. Search for the hidden blessings, and I don’t mean being spared something worse than what did happen, or in comparison to others.
Start small – this is not easy to do.
Take a minute every day to catch God being good. Say thanks, and really mean it. For example:
- In God’s mercy, I live in a city with a robust transport system for the disabled.
- Thanks to pandemic restrictions, my husband started working from home. By the grace of God, he still does, except for one afternoon a month.
- My knees hurt, so the doctor ordered physical therapy. My prayers for better endurance were answered as a result.
- The sun came up today, and there’s food on my table.
- And on a really bad day, well, my dog loves me.
God bless you in your efforts.
This post was written by Springs in the Desert Contributor Delsonora.