At the end of March, I traveled on a pilgrimage to El Salvador, walking in the footsteps of the martyrs. Along with my fellow pilgrims, I visited…
- La Iglesia el Rosario, the church where the Salvadoran people hid following a massacre;
- the chapel at Divine Providencia where Archbishop Romero was assassinated;
- the Cathedral in San Salvador, where a massacre occurred during his funeral;
- the site where the four North American women were found; and
- the University of Central America, where six Jesuits and two lay women, a mother and her daughter, were martyred.
As I visited these sites, I couldn’t help thinking about what it means to be a person of faith in the midst of trials and tribulations. When compared with the firsthand testimonies I heard from people who lived through the civil war in El Salvador, and those who are ministering to the Salvadoran people today, my personal trials seem trivial. Even as I say that, though, I know my trials are real and have an impact on my life. Like Martha and Mary, I can easily cry out “Lord, if you had been here …” (see John 11: 21, 32).
God is with us through our struggles and trials. He has endured all that we experience and deeply understands our human emotions. He responds when we seek him and cry out to him. In the midst of our trials, we can place our trust in God and know that he will carry us when we need it most.
It’s important to remember that we can do more than survive our trials; it’s possible to thrive in the middle of our fear and uncertainty, and when we do, we discover new depths in our relationship with God. So…
- Use the emotions triggered by your trial as an invitation to pray – Don’t ever be afraid to tell God what you are thinking or how you are feeling. He is here to listen to us. When we pause to listen, he offers comfort, guidance, healing, and strength so that we can face what is before us.
- Sing and pray the Psalms – The Book of Psalms is a songbook of lament and intercession, full of the raw emotions of the Hebrew people as they faced daunting trials. So immerse yourself in the Psalms of lament, which begin with a cry for help and often end with an expression of trust, a certainty that God has heard their prayer, or a moment of praise.
- Identify your “Alleluia” moment each day – When we are in the midst of a trial, it can seem as if nothing is good. So, at the end of each day, take a moment to reflect and identify what brought you joy—your “Alleluia” moments. If possible, share that memory with friends or family to ensure that you end your day on a positive note.
- Remember to take time for yourself and do something you enjoy – Self-care is one of the most important things we can do when things are in flux. Consider what brings you life and energy and make sure to spend time doing that.
- Surround yourself with people – Trials can often isolate us from others as we may think no one else understands what we are experiencing. That isolation can cause us to have additional struggles. Make it a point to call friends and get coffee, take a walk, or go out to dinner—remind yourself that you are not alone.
As we thrive in our trials, we are called to new life. In John 11, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and says, “Untie him and let him go” (John 11: 44). When we are set free from that which binds us, we are free to become more clearly who God has called us to be. We are a stronger witness of God’s love in the world and allow his light to shine through us. Our trials may appear binding as we walk through them, but they refine us and purify us to be a stronger disciple.
May God’s peace be upon you, as you thrive in the midst of any challenges and trials you are facing at this time.
Rosina Hendrickson is a member of Vibrant Faith’s Coaching Team, and she’s the Lifelong Faith and Lay Ministry Formation Coordinator for the Catholic Diocese of Davenport, Iowa. She also facilitates STEP courses through the University of Notre Dame, a platform for online adult formation.