YOUTH MATTERS: Getting what we want

By Sam Clear, Director of the Office of Youth Evangelisation

It’s typical when we’re young to stress about what we want in life, who we’ll marry, whether we should join a religious order, what to study, or whether to attend that party on Friday night or finish the assignment that was due three days ago.

It’s especially difficult to make a decision if we have two conflicting desires where the pursuit of one nullifies the other, or where our pursuit of an end result appears to be failing. We worry and often feel frustrated or even dejected.

In primary school our class was once told, “If you have any problems, just pray to God and he’ll fix it!” That sounded great, but we’d reduced God to a ‘genie’ – rub the bottle, God pops out, we put our order in and get on with life.

Within a few years that same message was given a number of times and I saw many of my friends lose faith as they prayed for something they wanted, didn’t get it, and concluded that God wasn’t real.

Jesus enters into our suffering with us. In fact, suffering and stressful situations are a fertile ground for training in love; to receive love from God and from our neighbour, and to extend love to God, our neighbour and even to ourselves.

Stressful moments we face help us to become courageous, merciful, humble, and even joyful when those around us would expect the opposite.

St Ignatius of Loyola surmised that, “If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint.

And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity”.

Each difficult moment we face is another opportunity to “take up our cross and follow” Jesus (Matthew 16:24-26). The virtues we grow in through difficult moments can prove more valuable than the decision itself.

Through this we always have hope, that ultimately, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Until then, trust humbly, and like St Therese of Lisieux, feel free to tell God that if He wants us to get through this He will need to provide more grace.

Tags: Youth Evangelisation