What is faith but trust in God? How do you know how strong your faith is unless your faith is tested? It is easy to say that I trust in God with my whole heart when times are good and the way easy. It is much harder to actually trust in God when the way is difficult and full of trials. That is where the rubber meets the road.
God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt only to have them wander in a desert for the next forty years. Those forty years were more difficult than any they had ever known. Their lives were much worse than what they had been in slavery. Their lives were in danger at all times. They knew hunger and thirst. They died from snake bites and scorpion stings. They grumbled and complained they entire time. They even went as far as to make an idol to worship.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks in Christianity is the question why would a loving God allow suffering? Does he like to see us suffer? Does he do it to see what we are capable of? God allows suffering so that love can exist. Love can never be forced. Love is always a choice. For there to be a choice there has to be alternatives. The proof of love is trust. God does not test us to see what we are capable of. He knows. God tests us so that we can see what we are capable of. Is your love for him strong enough that you will put your life in his hands no matter what the outcome?
God is always there to save us when we ask. When the Israelites were dying from snake bites God provided the golden serpent Moses raised high on a staff. When they were dying from thirst he brought forth water from the rock. And when they were starving to death he gave them the food of the angels and brought down manna from heaven. Through their trials they knew that God loved them and they God.
When we are faced with trials we can react to them in one of three ways. We can be filled with grief and wring our hands in despair. Woe is I, why am I made to suffer so? We can put the trust in ourselves and try to control the chaos. Or we can turn to God in love and trust that he will take care of us. We should look upon our trials, no matter how great or small, as blessings. These trials do two things for us. They give us opportunities to prove our love for God to ourselves in our trust that he will care for us. Our trials also act as conduits through which grace can flow.
When the Israelites were starving in the desert God’s grace came in the form of bread from heaven. The manna sustained the people through their trial. God also provides us with bread from heaven to strengthen us to face our trials with love and trust. He does not give us the manna that he gave to our forefathers. Instead God gives us the true bread, the Bread of Life. He gives us himself in the Eucharist and whoever eats of this bread shall never perish but have eternal life.
All things in this life including our trials will pass away. The love of God and the life he offers through the Eucharist is eternal. The Israelites would have continued to starve in the desert had they not eaten the bread God provided. Likewise, we will be dead in our sin if we do not consume the Bread of Life, the Eucharist, which God has provided to us. It is not merely bread made of wheat and water. It is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of God himself. We invite him into our being so that we may co-exist together for eternity.
Give thanks today for all that you have, the good and the bad, for it all is a blessing from God.