I feel very thankful at the moment. Strangely enough, at the moment, life is pretty tough.
It is one of those things in us that Christ turns upside down when we strive to truly follow Him. The natural response when things are hard is to cry out for deliverance. “Save me Lord!” And here is where the miracle happens; one by one, the experiences of God’s kindness and mercy accumulate in our lives and in our memories. Little by little we build up a principle in life: God is here…
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget , Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands” (Isaiah 49:15,16)
We learn that to ask God to stop our troubles forever is not sensible, nor is it a prayer He will grant. It’s just not in our best interests. We look to short term gain while He takes an eternal perspective. But He grants us relief from the immediate problem, in His own time, of course. That’s where the thankfulness comes in.
Lately, the problems in my life have been a little larger and somewhat more complex than usual. Being back at St Mark’s College for a while has meant quite a few more convoluted issues to be dealt with than I really would have chosen for myself. (It is funny how people congratulate you on being appointed a responsibility like this. Here’s how it sounds to me: “Hey, congratulations on being given a crushing responsibility, which, if you don’t carry out faithfully will leave the spiritual blood of hundreds of innocent young souls on your hands! How wonderful that you won’t have time to breath for the next six months! We’re so happy for you!”)
But as usual, the experience is once again nothing more than a reaffirmation of God’s incredible power and His all-embracing love…
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Problem after thorny problem is solved, and it passes.
All things must pass.
No problem lasts forever.
God is very, very good to us, His children.
The blessing of difficult times lies partly in the fact that it is in these times that we most experience the power of God in our lives, and thus touch His love in a very concrete way. The old Arabic proverb is very fitting: “The bitterness that God gives is sweeter than the sweetness the world gives”.
It is in tough times, when our own hopeless inadequacy and sinfulness is brutally revealed that we finally know the truth about ourselves. And it is in those times we learn of the incredible mercy of God that elevates us beyond anything we had imagined…
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9,10)
And so I am thankful; very, very thankful. I am thankful that God is slowly removing from me the unbearable burden of achieving perfection by my own means, and replacing it, piece by painful piece, with dependance on Him. I am thankful for every problem that comes along, for it offers yet another opportunity for me to wait upon the Lord, to learn to trust Him, and eventually to touch and be touched by the tenderness of His infinite care. It seems such an inadequate response, but it is all I have to offer:
Thank You God.
5 Replies to “Thank You God”
Patter Anthony , for years you used to be a great post for our youth in the western suburbs of Sydney , even some from our community and other communities in Mt Druitt used to call you the YOUTH FATHER… it is the will of God to give you another heavy cross in your holy service mission in our schools, with a lot of souls there as well need to be looked after ..it is good you and your family are carrying this heavy cross task thankfully … everybody has got a cross to carry to suffer with our Lord if we want to be glorify with him at the end …..i believe God will look after those youth in our local church with his great care and love in time.. our expectation is high but realistic …praise God by your life ,amen …
Father Antonious , You mentioned before that ” no pain ,no gain”.
GOD will be with you ,to carry that heavy cross as Romani said . But I feel that the youth At SMC ,they need your real christianity .
GOD will be with you and your family in that hard time ,till you find the right person to give you hand in that “big burden ” .
Please pray for us ,Father .
Dear Fr. Antonious, I am very moved by your post, and I thank you for sharing. I had a question for you. Often times, I feel the burden of the cross, and I know that the power of Christ is embodied in that cross. But, I get so easily discouraged when I feel the heavy burden, and I lose sight of the glory of God and lapse into despair quickly. So, my question is, how can we unite our weakness with the strength of God as we carry our cross and feel its heavy burden? How is possible to feel my weakness under that cross, but at the same time be able to say with St. Paul, “when I am weak, then I am strong”??
somebody the other day was carrying the spring of love of last week i believe and was upset , then he said , did you read the spring of love ??? i told him no mate …..he said a group call themselves “Sydney Aghapy Team “, they said that they will be broadcasting happy mother day from the Egyptians in Sydney to their relatives in Egypt…i said i never heard about them but that is good work …he said it is a team which represent our parish in T.V aspects and must cover the whole Coptic community with their different backgrounds and they are many in our churches …i said , it sounds good old pal …..he asked , what will we do now ??? i told him mate you have got an option out of two , either you complain and hit the sin and not the sinner to the high levels in the Church ” if you find any around to listen to you ” and make sure you put forward your constructive view so the Church to look after this or you carry your heavy cross and join the Apathy Group and thank God because plenty of them around as the last survey showed that 7% to 10 % of our Coptic Community in Sydney attend our Churches regularly and it escalates to 15% to 20% in feasts like Xmas and Easter and i wish you good luck mate , Ah Da H al Aldounia!!!!!!!may God have mercy on all of us amen
Thank you God you looked after our churches in this part of the world for nearly forty years and your holy hands supported all the time the effort of our fathers and grandfathers who moved to this part of the world who chose to work in a team spirit within our great meaningful way of life to do all these great works and building for us a lot of nice churches with its great Australian Coptic community ….Thank you God that we never in our life we got any donations from overseas or our mother Church to support us on the contrary and till now we collect a lot of donations and send it overseas specially Egypt and Sudan despite things globally is getting worst and we need to support more our local needy and least and look after our backyard and our Churches must activate this great cause locally …. Thank you God that we got a lot of priests from our own local community who understand our identity , our way and nature of our life…. may our Lord strengthen our deeds to be at the same level of our faith as the Lord put it strait forward FAITH WITHOUT DEEDS IS DEAD …. give it a thought mate and go and look for those least and isolated from our Australian Coptic Community , trust me they are plenty around us…the hand out from our government is little and the isolation is hurting them ….widows ,orphans , separated , divorced , poor , needy , prisoners ,sick , elderly , retarded , desperate people and you name it …do something … i believe our Coptic churches here are not doing too much in this aspect , i wonder why they ignore the DEEDS and work hard on the FAITH ????!!! a million dollar question ??!! mate if you have got something nice say it if not better say nothing ???!!!