There are times in life when everything seems right and perfect, and other times when we feel completely lost and don’t even know why. We experience those moments when our faith is strong, and feel as if we could handle anything that comes our way. Just when things get into a groove, our faith then falters, and we feel weak and frail. The human soul goes through many seasons in the journey to eternal life. The good news is that the God who created us knows and understands our human condition and frailty even better than we do. Our God is meek and humble and thirsts for our hearts and souls in every season, good or bad. God always desires to be near us regardless of our sin and lack of faith. In the midst of our anxiety, Christ wishes to meet us right where we are and bring us peace.
It may be comforting to know that Scripture tells us of a time when St. Joseph experienced anxiety. When Jesus was 12 years old, Mary and Joseph realized that they had left him behind in the Temple. Only afterwards do we hear relief in Mary’s voice once they finally found him, “Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously” (Luke 2:48).
This story is more than a testament of Mary and Joseph’s humanity. It is a simple yet fundamental lesson for us all: They were both anxious precisely when they lost Jesus! The disappearance of Jesus at the Temple and the subsequent anxiety that followed illustrates undoubtedly what happens to the rest of us in our own spiritual lives. When we lose sight of Jesus and all of our worries and distractions get in the way, our vision becomes unclear. Where is Jesus in the midst of all the distractions?
As the author of the famous poem Footprints in the Sand contemplated, is it Jesus that deserts us in our time of need, or is it we that lose sight of him in those times when we need him the most? Discovering Jesus’ presence ensures that he will restore peace once again in our lives. Fortunately, this story gives both the Holy Family and all of us the key to where to find him: at the Temple. As Jesus said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)
When do you most often fall into anxiety, and what are the main causes?
When you find yourself anxious and distressed, ask the Lord to come to your assistance. Ask him to show you his hidden face right in the midst of your crisis and fears. The Lord wishes to make himself known to you in the midst of any struggle you are going through, and he will be by your side through it all. Life will not be without burdens, struggles, disappointments, tragedy, loss and eventually even death, but our God promises that we do not have to endure these things alone.
When you come to these moments in life and are looking for a sign that God is real, cares for you and loves you, remember what Mary and Joseph had to do to relieve their anxiety. They had to find Jesus. They did not give into despair when they realized that they were the ones that left him behind, but instead they sought after him. Seek him and you will find him. In your pain, find him in his. Contemplate the scourging, the crown of thorns placed upon his head, the nails through his hands and feet, and the sword that pierced his heart. His heart was opened that you might receive his infinite love and mercy that flows without limits. When you are looking for a sign of the Father’s love for you, gaze upon the cross and remember that there is no greater love. When the troubles of life become so great that your heart is completely open before God, and you find yourself begging and asking if everything will be “okay”, gaze upon the cross and recall how the story ends. God brings a greater good. Easter Resurrection will come! Trust in the Lord.
What are some things you can do when the trials of life come your way so that the next time you will quickly turn to Jesus?
Heavenly Father, help me to trust in you with all that I am. Be near me especially in times of great anxiety. Bring clarity to me in these moments, Lord. I place my life in your hands and trust in your goodness. Bring me peace when I am troubled. Come to my aid. Seek after me when I lose sight of you. Forgive me for the times that I cannot find you because I have placed things in front of you that block my vision. Open my eyes Lord, as I want to see your face. Help me know that you are near.
St. Joseph, reveal to me Christ’s hidden face present in my children. Teach me to manifest for them the Father who is rich in mercy. Amen.