Oh, I’m sorry. I do understand this. Not quite three years ago I lost my best friend to cancer - she was 32 years old. And I admit this shook my faith like nothing else had ever done before. I couldn’t understand WHY. She was young and beautiful and compassionate and a brilliant doctor, she had so much to offer this world. But instead of a “happy ending” I watched her suffer and die. I prayed my heart out that she would win through. I prayed “without ceasing”. And finally at the end I prayed that she would not suffer any more. (And let me tell you I still feel guilty for that.)
I still don’t understand “why”. But I trust that God knows what he’s doing. Her illness and death strongly affected me, and made a difference in my life (and the lives of others). Instead of losing my faith, it has blossomed and grown tremendously - in no small part due to the loss of my friend. Suffering can be made holy, and death is not the end of us. We don’t want to lose the people we love, naturally, and it’s so hard to see them suffer. I wish I could tell you something other than “trust in God”. I am not an apologist. I don’t even speak well. But I know this - God DOES answer prayers. Just sometimes the answer is no. And while we may not understand that, my faith tells me that God DOES.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked back at things and realised that, if things had gone the way I’d hoped, if God had answered my prayers the way I wanted him to… I’d have had disaster. It’s hard to see when you’re in the moment.
A particular instance of God answering my prayers? Nearly a year ago - last October - I said a novena to St. Therese. I wanted desperately to receive the sacraments, but was getting nowhere in my parish and was frustrated. I asked if by her intercession God would let me know if I should seek to receive the sacraments at my father’s church in another state (where I went to visit in November). On the final day of my novena, my mother (who is not Catholic and knows very little about saints) on a whim brought me a bouquet of roses she’d seen while shopping. (St. Therese often answers prayers with roses.) I took this to mean that I would have my first communion and confirmation at my dad’s parish. I was so excited! I spoke to my dad and stepmom about it and they were very enthusiastic, and agreed to speak to the priest with me.
Well… the best laid plans! LOL The day I arrived both my father and I got sick, there was about 3 feet of snow on the ground and the temperature outside hovered at minus 24. I never got out of the house, and returned home a week later quite unhappy, and disappointed that St. Therese seemed to be giving me the “wrong” message.
She wasn’t wrong.
In April my aunt became terribly ill. She’s been the light of my life since I was old enough to crawl, and knowing she would be gone soon was terrible. All of the family went to her (across the country). And on April 1st my stepmom became unexpectedly ill. On April 8 my beautiful stepmother died. And on April 9 my beloved aunt died. My dad lost his wife one day, and his sister the next. We were all so floored we couldn’t even ask “WHY?”
From tragedy came great joy. I left home and went to stay with my dad for four months. On May 30 I was received into the church, in my Dad’s parish. Just as St. Therese had promised me.
I could tell you more - I could go on and on about these things, and my experiences. But I think you could read stories upon stories of answered prayers… and still you would have to arrive at the same point - to trust or not to trust in God.
I hope that you will speak to a priest, or a counselor, or your confessor about this. It can be very helpful. Some parishes have grief support groups as well, and that can help to work through some of these issues.
I will keep you in my prayers!
God bless you!