Whatever happens to or with us is ultimately for our own good.
It happens with me ever so often, and maybe it happens with you too. I’m up and about early in the morning after an enjoyable time at prayer, chatting with God about this and that. What a glorious way to welcome a new day! Such bliss! But then, not long afterwards, suddenly something happens and I completely lose my cool. Someone in the house does something mean, a friend speaks in a harsh tone or a shopkeeper is brash with me, and I get worked up! I react at once, unable to conceal my irritation and anger. I try to counter the person by telling him or her how wrong their behaviour is. Or, if for some reason I think it’s better to keep shut, I wallow in silent resentment, fuming inside.
How quickly the peace that I enjoyed just a while earlier has disappeared! How awful I feel now! Why is my peace so flimsy? Why do I so easily allow other people’s behaviour to dictate my moods?
Prayer Early in the Morning
It isn’t easy to maintain the peace that we’ve enjoyed while at prayer early in the morning for the rest of the day because we’re bound to encounter situations during the day that we will find discomforting. Different people might have different methods to seek to remain calm and refuse to fall prey to agitation when faced with a challenging situation. Here’s a practical, three-step method for this purpose that we could try out. It is based on certain assumptions:
- That God is with us at all times, even in situations that we think are most vexing and painful.
- That God is deeply interested in and concerned about our welfare and happiness.
- That God is holding our hand and guiding us always, even in and through the difficult situations that we face. It isn’t that after God created us He abandoned us to face life and its painful challenges all on our own.
- That everything that happens to and with us is in God’s knowledge.
- That whatever happens to or with us is ultimately for our own good, even though we may not always realise this at the moment it is happening.
Step 1: When I am faced with a situation that I find upsetting and painful, I should desist from reacting at once. Such reaction is almost always counterproductive, not least because it destroys our peace of mind, makes us bitter and angry and ruins our relationships, thereby generally causing more harm to us than to anyone else.
Step 2: Instead of immediately reacting to a challenging situation, I should take time off even just a few seconds to reflect on what lesson(s) for my own benefit God might want me to learn from it (given the assumption that God is deeply concerned about my welfare and that everything that happens to or with me is for my ultimate good).
“What good thing does God want me to gain or learn from this challenging situation?” I should ask myself.
If we ask this question of every seemingly difficult situation that we are faced with, even those that seem very painful, we can discern at least something good that we could gain from it. For instance, if someone is rude to us, if we ask ourselves “What good thing does God want me to gain or learn from this challenging situation?” we might discover that through this God is teaching us to become more forgiving and patient and thus grow in our reflection of Divine attributes. It may be that through this experience God wants us to reflect on some of the times when we have been rude to others so that we can realise that we need to be aware of our own faults, which we often conveniently ignore. It may also be that this is God’s way of telling us to avoid this person, for our own good.
If we’re stuck in a traffic jam, asking ourselves “What good thing does God want me to gain or learn from this challenging situation?” might lead us to see it as a blessing from God, an opportunity to take time off from our often unnecessarily busy schedule so that we can have a little chat with Him till the traffic begins to move again.
If we relate to every challenge that we face in our day-to-day life in this way, asking ourselves what important lesson(s) God might wants us to learn from it or what good God might want us to gain from it, we can discover that the painful challenges we face can be among our greatest teachers and among the best ways for us to grow as persons.
Reflecting on each of our experiences, including the one’s that seem most irritating or difficult, in this manner can enable us to become more self-reflective. It can also save us from reacting to challenges at the cost of losing our composure and ruining our relationships.
Step 3: After discerning the goodness that’s hidden in a painful situation or the lesson that God wants us to learn from it in order to grow, we are in a much better position to respond in a positive and constructive manner, instead of reacting instinctively as we might have done earlier and losing our cool.
The next time I’m faced with a situation that I find vexing, I do hope I’ll try this method out. I better, if I want to be at peace!
(The writer is a freelancer based in Bangalore)