As people of faith, how do we handle disappointments and difficulties regarding our career paths or pet projects? Do we feel devastated, and lose hope? Do we pick quarrels with God for the failures and for not intervening to save the situation? Many times, many of us are negatively affected when faced with serious disappointments. We see a different picture in the first reading of today.
Facing Disappointments and Difficulties
In it we hear about the encouraging news of those disciples who were scattered by the persecution that arose on account of Stephen. Their commitment to Christ did not diminish despite the fact that they have to run for their lives, abandoning their livelihood and place of comfort. They faced severe disappointments and witness untold difficulties. Yet, they took the gospel message with them wherever they went. The message of the resurrection for which they were persecuted is one that depicts God’s power to rescue his beloved from the pit of death and suffering. This message remained convincing to them despite the fact that they have to run for their lives. And they not only preached the message, but they also lived it, so much so that they were given a special name because of their fidelity to Christ.
Our Faith is Answer to Disappointments
Why were they able to hold on to their faith amidst persecution and hardship? I think it is all about the resurrection encounter with Christ. This encounter confirmed for them all that Christ taught them. It made evident the love and faithfulness of God. With the encounter, Christ’s life became exemplary for them. They could remember that Christ had also to undergo suffering with all fidelity until the end.
So, the example of their master was the first source of strength for them. Given the fate of Christ, they could hold firm to their belief in God, as one in charge of their lives. Also was firmness to the belief that God always allows circumstances that will make them stronger and bring them closer to him.
It was not only the apostles that demonstrated faithfulness, God was also faithful. He did not abandon them. He was with them through the persecution and blessed their ministry in foreign lands. In his book ‘the God of surprises’, Gerard W. Hughes compares the children of God to the hidden treasures of Matthew 13: 44 that God has sacrificed everything to purchase. We are of great value to God. Not that he needs us but because he loves us.
In order to remain strong and survive moments of difficulties and disappointments, we need to reassure ourselves of this. We also need to set our minds and hearts on the faithfulness of God. Though moments of difficulties can be very painful, in hindsight, we will see how blessed we are to have gone through them. It is comparable to the disciples. Through the persecution they endured, they were equipped to bring the message of the resurrection to the various parts of the world. Let us continue to trust God, no matter the circumstance.