As we grow older, we get to a point where we realize that if we want to maintain our sanity, we must accept each new challenge that we face as an opportunity for growth. We learn that each time we conquer a new challenge, there’s always going to be a new and greater challenge that we will have to deal with in the future. While each new challenge is always personal in nature, it also sometimes includes one or more of our family members or friends.
The challenges that we face can include a problem that we’re having with another person, a financial setback, a job-related issue, an emotional or mental issue, a personal health issue, or a family health issue. While most new challenges originate with us, some of the challenges that we are forced to deal with originate in our local communities, our nation, or in another country.
During the last century, challenges that originated in other countries that had a direct impact on the citizens of the United States included World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. By the grace of God, none of those wars involved combat within our own borders, but unfortunately, tens of thousands of American men and women had no other choice but to fight in those wars in order to protect the citizens of our country.
While the COVID-19 pandemic does not involve guns, tanks, and bombs, it’s like a war in the sense that it originated in another country and then quickly invaded our nation, as well as the other nations of the world. Even though the pandemic has only been with us since the beginning of the year, we are experiencing some of the same effects that people customarily experience during a war.
We are beginning to think in terms of what our lives were like before the pandemic and how much our lives have changed since it began. We are also anxious and fearful because there appears to be no end in sight. Or rather — we have grave concerns about the adverse health effects of the virus, the continued decline of our economy, and the apparent disintegration of our political system of law and order.
The anxiety and fear that we are experiencing is magnified by the daily reporting of the number of newly infected people combined with the actions and threats that are being taken by our local and state authorities to impose severe limitations on our freedoms.
What we are experiencing is not only a U.S. problem, it is a worldwide problem.
Some of the advantages that U.S. citizens have always enjoyed over most of the other people in the world include the freedoms that were granted to us in our constitution and the benefits we have become accustomed to as a result of our advanced economy. These advantages have given us the ability to enjoy a lifestyle that has allowed us to exercise an unprecedented level of control over our lives. Most of the people in the world have never experienced the freedom and abundance that we take for granted.
Unfortunately, the new challenge of having to navigate through the problems and dangers associated with a pandemic has taken a higher toll on our mental and emotional health than what people may be experiencing in less fortunate countries. To a certain extent, those people have become accustomed to dealing with major crises and disappointments on a regular basis.
For those of us who are accustomed to getting our way, we get frustrated when we are not able to exercise control over almost every aspect of our lives, including our health, jobs, relationships, and financial security. The consequences that have resulted from the pandemic have been so chaotic and unpredictable that most Americans feel as though they have lost the ability to maintain an acceptable level of control over their lives.
Psychologists tell us that before individuals can have true peace of mind, they must first have a feeling of being in control of their lives. I’m not so sure this is true. I rarely have a feeling of being in control of my life. I do, however, often feel at peace after I have set aside an adequate amount of time to pray that despite whatever challenges that may come my way, God will continue to provide for my needs and the needs of my family, in the same way that He has always provided for us.
There is really only one thing in this world that we have complete control over and that is the decisions we make and the actions we take as a result of our decisions. Most everything else is outside of our own control.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Saint John Paul II lived lives in which they were rarely in control of what was going on around them. But for the most part, both of them lived lives in which they appeared to have a great sense of confidence and peace.
You and I can learn from these two great modern-day saints. What was the most important decision they made each day? They made the decision to pray. I’m not just talking about attending daily Mass or praying a daily rosary. They spent several hours in prayer each day.
I know, I know, you have a different vocation. You have a spouse, children, and a job to tend to, or you are a full-time student with a part-time job to attend to, or you are a busy mother who barely has the time to take a shower. Instead of praying for several hours each day, can you pray at least an hour each day? If that’s too much to ask, can you at least set aside a half hour each day to pray?
Most people avoid making a conscious decision to dedicate more time to prayer. They know that they should be praying more, but they avoid thinking about it.
How can we enhance our relationship with God and expect Him to help us if we’re not willing to spend at least 30 minutes a day interacting with Him?
Do you feel as though the pandemic and other events that are taking place in our country are causing you to feel as though you are losing control? You can change the way you feel by making a commitment to pray an additional 30 minutes each day. Is that too much to ask?