Most of us struggle with the fact that God allows bad things to happen to us. Why does he not intervene more often to protect us from attacks of various sorts, and from events that cause sadness, setbacks, or suffering?
While mysterious, the clearest answer is that God allows suffering in order that some greater blessing may occur. To some degree I have found this so, since some of my greatest blessings required that a door slam shut, or that some suffering be endured. And so if my college sweetheart had not dumped me, it is likely that I would not be priest today, which is a very great blessing. Had I gotten some of my preferred assignments in my early years as a priest, I would not have been enriched by the assignments I did have. Those assignments have helped draw me out and grow me far more than the cozy, familiar places I desired. Had I not entered into the crucible of depression and anxiety in my 30s, I would not have learned to trust God as much as I do, and I would not have learned important lessons about myself and about life.
So despite that fact that we understandably fear suffering and dislike it, for reasons of His own (reasons He knows best), God does allow some degree of it in our lives.
Yet I wonder if we really consider the countless times God did step in to prevent any number of disasters in our life. We tend to focus on the negative things in life and overlook an enormous number of often-hidden blessings: every beat of our heart, every proper function of every cell in our body, all the perfect balances that exist in nature and the cosmos in order to sustain us.
Just think of the simple act of walking and all the possible missteps we might have taken but did not. Think of all the stupid risks we took in our life, especially when we were young, that did not end in disaster. Think of all the poor choices we made and yet escaped the worst possible consequences.
Yes we wonder why we and others suffer and why God allows it. But do we ever wonder why we don’t suffer? Do we ever think about why and how we have escaped some awfully stupid and foolish things we have done? In typical human fashion we minimize our many, many blessings and magnify and resent our sufferings.
One of the expressions I have picked up over the years, and that I use in response to people who ask me how I am doing, is this: “I’m pretty well blessed for a sinner.” I have heard others say, “I am more blessed than I deserve.” Yes, pretty well blessed indeed!
I thought of all that as I watched the commercial below (aired during the Superbowl). And while it speaks of the watchfulness of a father, it also makes me think of my guardian angel, who has surely preserved me from many disasters.
As you watch the commercial, don’t forget to thank God for the many hidden rescues He has executed for you through your guardian angel. Thank Him too for the hidden blessings—blessings you know nothing of—but that He bestowed anyway. And think finally of the wonderful mercy He has often shown in protecting you from the worst of your foolishness.
8 Replies to “Of Our Guardian Angel and the Hidden Mercies of God, as seen in a Commercial”
“The All-New Genesis” 😉
A Psalm of David — 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
2 he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff,
they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil,
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
God bless you, Msgr. Pope.
You probably won’t run this, Monsignor, but my position since I first start reading you is simple: You should be a bishop and my hope is that Pope Francis will agree with me–soon. My home town of Chicago will need someone soon and you would flourish there. Absolutely. After the fall of Corapi, you are one of the few we have left. I’m amazed that EWTN doesn’t feature you in some capacity. But they don’t feature Father Peter Stravinskas, either. But he may hit the truth with a sledgehammer at times where you have a nicer way of doing it. Hang in there. I just hope they don’t send you to Utah or Idaho or Arkansas when the bishopric calls.
Thanks. Being a Bishop is to carry a heavy cross! But I am grateful for your vote of confidence.
My Bishop in Richmond shall be retiring in the next two years. Would love to have you here in Virginia as well. I don’t think you truly realize how many people you help, inspire and encourage through this column. Thank you for answering the call! God Bless You Monsignor!
Blessings! Thank you for this encouragement
I use the “wise parent” analogy when answering the question of your first paragraph: When I’ve told my children “No” one hundred times, and I’ve explained why one hundred times, and they still insist on disobeying or simply ignoring my rules, then I throw my hands up and let them learn the hard way through natural and logical consequences. They tend to learn the lesson fastest that way in many cases. Hopefully, they’ll eventually learn to simply obey as my rules aren’t arbitrary. Seeing as humans are just so stubborn, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is how God sometimes handles us. Sometimes, when we persist in just not listening, we have to learn the hard way.
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