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Two Common Spiritual Temptations

stfrancisdesales

“Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same loving God who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. God will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.” - St Francis de Sales

I like this quote because it addresses two big spiritual temptations that I always struggle with. 

First, the tendency to fear. This is huge! We humans are so prone to fear and anxiety. God understands this and, in the bible, the concept of fear is addressed a lot. In Matthew 6, we are told not to worry about our life, about what we will eat or drink; about our body, what we will wear. Why? Well, 1) because worrying doesn’t help the situation, and 2) our heavenly Father knows that we need them. We are called to focus on God and all of these other needs we have, trust God will provide.

I like that St Francis de Sales tells us not to fear what happens tomorrow. Most of us are not wracked with fear about today. Today we are making it through pretty much ok – it’s tomorrow that’s scary with all its unknowns. And, that’s the trick of the evil one! God’s grace – meaning His help in our time of need – is real and works in the present moment. We call out to Him and His grace is operative now, not in some unknown time in the future.

This is why I like the first line in the quote – do not fear what will happen tomorrow. The same loving God who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. 

But then he addresses the second spiritual temptation: our tendency to treat God like a good-luck charm. Our thinking goes more or less like this, “if I do my part and have enough faith, God will do His part and protect me from suffering.” We essentially blackmail God with our prayers and love: God, if you truly love me, you won’t ever let anything bad happen to me or the people I love.

But the problem with this way of thinking is the Cross. God didn’t even allow His own beloved Son to escape His cross. This world is definitely beautiful and awe-inspiring, but it also comes with suffering, and every person has their own particular cross to bear. And, although I do believe that God, in His fatherly love, shields us from a certain amount of suffering, God does allow us to suffer as well. I like that this quote addresses this inevitable suffering and contextualizes it. Everyone has a cross, but those in a loving relationship with the Father are given the unfailing strength to bear it.

So, friends, be at peace and do not fear. Turn your gaze to the Lord and enjoy the life you have been gifted with.

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