Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
"Endure your trials as ‘discipline.’" Hebrews 12: 7a
We know that discipline is good for us. We need to discipline ourselves in many areas to live the abundant life Jesus wants for us. Just as children need discipline to grow and mature, we too need discipline to have balance in our lives and to continue to grow and change. Our second reading today asks us to look at our trials as a form of discipline and to see them in a positive way.
I facilitate a group of women twice a month called "God’s Girls." We start by coming into the Lord’s presence singing praise and worship songs. Next we have an opening prayer, where we thank God and invite the Holy Spirit to teach us and bless our time together. Then we do our lesson for the week, which comes from a bible study or one of Fr. Cedric’s books. We close by having a time of intercessory prayer and one or two more songs. This group is so life-giving – we pray together, cry together, and laugh a lot!
Our meeting was last night, and in the summer we study the readings for the upcoming Sunday, so it just happened to be the readings that my reflection is based on this month. I asked them to share some examples of trials in their lives that have resulted in blessings and growth. One woman shared that people going through a life-threatening illness learn to appreciate the gift of each day. They don’t "sweat the small stuff" and they are able to focus on what’s really important. She talked about sitting with her mother who was fighting for her life and how she realized at that same moment other people were out there fighting about silly things rather than cherishing the gift of life.
Another shared how she learned patience as she helped her sister raise her son who has Aspergers Syndrome. A third shared how a family she knows has reconciled and found each other again because of their mother’s illness. And a fourth told us about her sister who served time in prison and after getting out went back to school and has earned two masters degrees and is now getting her PhD. She is also starting a ministry for people being released from prison to help them re-enter society. Her time in prison gave her new purpose and inspired her to help others.
Whatever our trials, we can see them as opportunities for growth and know that good can come from them.
Janice Carleton and her husband Jim live in Portland, OR and partner with Passionist Fr. Cedric Pisegna in Fr. Cedric Ministries. She is the mother of 4 grown children and grandmother of 6. Janice also leads women’s retreats and recently wrote her first book: God Speaks to Ordinary People – Like You and Me. Visit Janice’s website at http://www.janicecarleton.com/ or email her at [email protected].