Sometimes we get the sense that life takes something away from us that we cannot give up. In these moments we feel a sense of rebellion and ask ourselves: why does God allow this? Why does he ask of me such a great sacrifice?
These can be precious experiences as long as they push us to ask ourselves a deeper question that goes beyond our immediate reaction. We must ask ourselves: why does this loss make me suffer in this way? What do I really care for? When God tears us away from something we are attached to, he enables us to begin a journey that brings us to make a new judgement and to experience freedom in a new way.
I would like to use an image: in the situations that I described above, we resemble a child that holds a toy upside down because he does not know how to use it. Perhaps the child is stubbornly holding onto his idea of the toy, or perhaps he is simply too small. The father then gets close to the child, takes to toy, and holds it in the right position to teach him how to use it. The child, however, is frightened: he fears that his dad wants to steal it away from him, and so he becomes even more persistent, trying to make it work as he wills. In this way, a dispute begins where the resistance of the child is met with the patience of the father. Then, a certain moment comes when the father calls the son by name. It is then that the child accepts to take away his eyes from the object in hand, and to look at his father in the face. It is only at this moment that the child’s grip loosens, leaving aside what he was holding on to. And instantly he finds the toy back in his hands, right side up. Now he can begin to understand and to enjoy playing with the toy. In the dialogue with the father, in the meeting of their gazes, the son discovered that what seemed like an act of deprival was actually an act of giving.
A departure, a death, when we fall in love and must renounce it, a betrayal suffered, a failure, the consequences of an error or of a sin of ours… All these circumstances can become the occasion to lift our gaze towards the One who allows them to happen. This does not mean that we were not previously in dialogue with him. However, even when we are sure that we are living and working for him, often our actual dependence on him comes secondary, and our heart becomes cluttered with the things we do, with our affections and with our thoughts.
Within the circumstance that wounds us or knocks us down, we are once again placed in front of him. Once more we feel called by name, and this takes away the pretension and the preoccupation of governing our lives by ourselves. It is he who places the particular relationship, task or project that we care for so much, in its right place. He often gives them back to us right away, and we are able to see them in a different light. It may also happen that God not give back what he asked us to renounce, but even in this case he gives us something far greater: a truer freedom and above all a new closeness to him, which is already a consolation amidst the pain of our loss.
A screenshot from «Interstellar» by Christopher Nolan (2014).