I have a t-shirt that boldly states: Running, cheaper than therapy – and it’s true. But one could also say the same about one’s faith. I read somewhere that people who have religion in their lives are happier people. The reasons, I believe, are two-fold: 1.) with faith in God, there’s no reason to despair; one always has hope, and 2.) we’re not in charge, and that takes the pressure off.
Now, I know, having said these things, this is not always the case – we do despair…and we do think we’re in charge a lot of the time. It’s a constant struggle to get it right. The point is, we persevere; we don’t give up.
I was out running with the dog on a recent Saturday morning. She loves to run…and she’s fast, I’m continually reigning her in. So, we were going along at a good pace, the leash was taut, then suddenly went slack. At the speed with which we were going…and for the dog to suddenly stop…the leash slackening and me sailing on full speed ahead, tripping over said leash – it was not a pretty sight. I hit the ground hard. Well, first I was up in the air for what seemed like 20 minutes, wondering if I could somehow maneuver a soft landing – not a chance. I went splat, in the middle of the road. Thankfully, our road is dead at 7:30 on a Saturday morning. And thankfully we were fairly close to home. When I limped home and shared these events with my husband, he cringed and then suggested I take up a different form of exercise. Our oldest son’s suggestion was similar, while our youngest son simply said. ‘Mom, don’t take the dog running anymore.’ I much preferred his advice.
When things get tough, giving up should not be our go-to option. How can we accomplish anything with that attitude? How can we grow? We can run up against difficulties and disappointments in our prayer life too; on our journey of faith…we can feel overwhelmed, fatigued, disheartened – but we must never give up. We may have dry periods, or lazy periods when our prayers are not as heartfelt as they normally are. We may feel we are going through the motions, but getting nowhere. This is nothing new; many great saints also suffered these dark periods…but they didn’t give up – or, more precisely, God never gave up on them.
You see? There’s no need for despair –because God truly is in charge. But, if you need a spiritual boost, a shot in the arm – take a walk outside – there’s a whole lot of renewal going on with flowers bursting open, trees budding, grass greening…and birds’ song!
The Heavens are telling the glory of God, and all creation is shouting for joy. Come, dance in the forest, come, play in the field, and sing, sing to the glory of the Lord!
Canticle of the Sun, Marty Haugen