In difficult times in our lives we are tempted to turn our back on God. In this week’s Blog, Fr Paddy gives his thoughts on how we can hold on to our faith.

Fr. Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist papers.
This column appeared in the edition published  September 2010

A recent visit to a home of a bereaved family left a lasting impression on me. Despite the pain and great burden of bereavement felt, there was also an opportunity to hope. While speaking about their raw and fragile wounds, this family admitted that they could not get out of the bed in the morning if they did not have a sense of Gods presence in their lives. Faith can indeed be a source of consolation. The light of Gods presence offers hope in the shadows of uncertainty and fear.

Where would most of us be without some sense of God in all our lives. I often contemplate that no matter how small and insecure my faith or any of ours may be, it is still such a wonderful gift, given to us from our God. In this regard, it is very comforting that Jesus assures us, that if our faith was only the size of a mustard seed, great things could be made possible for us all.

One of the greatest temptations in life is at times to loose faith, to fall out with God and not perhaps to make up again. I am sure that ‘most of us have had occasions in our lives when we have asked why? When sickness, berevement, conflict, hurt, separation, anxiety and burden come to our story we may well ask and wonder where is God in all of this.

When we consider all the problems that we have to engage with at a personal, national and global level, one may very well at times be overwhelmed. So many in our communities, families, workplaces have long faces that rarely smile. Anxiety and depression have grown dramatically as unemployment, emigration and economic uncertainty continues to rise. Many good people no longer connect in a formal way to Church. The Church itself greatly struggles to communicate a most relevant message of hope, in a time of great disillusionment in light of recent shocking reports.

Neighbours or friends spend vast amounts of money consulting fortune tellers and engaging in other new age practices. There is a real temptation to forget that the One who created us, resides in the depths of our own being. We, not God, more than often make life complicated. One of the great learning’s in the twelve step program for that recovering from addiction is to live life simply, appreciating all that we have. Often we are so concerned about achieving our long term goals we fail to live and celebrate the now. Ours is a God who surprises us with plenty NOW !

Being open to God allows us to hope. There are many opportunities in all our lives to grow in our friendship with a God who patiently awaits all our stories, to be strengthened and healed by his presence. HOPE allows us to continue even where life can be most difficult and we may be bruised and scared. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, especially when we need that glimmer of light when the shadows of fear and brokenness surround us.

God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.