In the day of prosperity, adversity is forgotten. In the day of adversity, prosperity is not remembered.”
A Word of Hope
Although the author of Sirach, Ben Sira, taught these words more than two millennia ago, they are equally important today. The Covid pandemic has upset the world, and most people are faced with deleterious change, loss and adversity. The beautiful opportunities and experiences which we previously enjoyed seem to be swallowed up in loss and fear today. Memories of them may become painful because of present adversity. Uncertainty and fear cloud our minds and may affect our spiritual life. Certainly, we are not the first generation to experience severe adversity which tends to stifle good memories.
The Apostle Paul had wonderful experiences of success in some of his ministry. However, in a Roman prison cell, where things seemed to be coming to an end, he could write to the Philippian Christians: “I rejoice in the Lord; for I have learned to be content in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and how to abound. I have learned the secret of facing plenty and want. I can endure all things through Christ who strengthens me. And the [satisfying] peace of God will keep your hearts and minds.” (Philippians 4:8-11) The uncertainties of daily life became less significant because he focused his thankful attention on the unchanging blessings of God. Let that be so in our lives in times of plenty and in times of want.
Ben Sirah also writes, “The heart changes one’s countenance, either for good or for evil. The sign of a happy heart is a cheerful face.” (Sirach 13:25-26) The forced smile in face of any problem or lots of Botox injections; these seem to be our society’s signal of happy living! Yet, both are false and fading. Neither will lift our emotions longer than that one moment. Ben Sira asked his young students a question which each of us must answer. What’s the source of a happy or contented life? Wisdom from the Scripture tells us that happy and contented life starts with the soul which has found assured peace with God and peace with the surrounding world.
When you recognize that you are held in the hand of God’s providing love, you can rest in peace with whatever the world throws at you. It all centers around the quality of your relationship with God. The individual who lives each day in a right relationship with God is called “blessed” and finds a heart peace which causes a cheerful face. May you be blessed by God’s presence and peace in a manner which is overflowing and carries you through whatever life brings your way.
Providing God, your words of wisdom may be ancient or modern, but they always stand forth with your truth. During all of my activities this day, May I attend to your voice of guidance and love. I give you my praise, and may all humanity give you glory. Amen.
Donald (Luke) Day
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare