Trials on the Road of Life
The Most Holy Trinity
June 12, 2022
One year I had the good fortune to be on a priests’ retreat out in the Mojave Desert, but in order to get there I had to fly into Los Angeles International Airport. And there before me was the “busiest freeway in America”, a freeway with eight lanes of traffic in each direction and going nowhere fast. Even though it was 9 o’clock at night (and the retreat started the next day), traffic was stopped in both directions for as far as the eye could see.
Where were all these people going so late on a Sunday night? And where are we going? We’re all on the highway of life, surrounded by cars on their own journey, yet we share the road together – believers and unbelievers – good drivers and bad drivers – the selfless and the selfish, all in this together. And we all have one common destination in the end – death. We all have someplace to go, but we don’t know at what point the freeway will be closed and we will be forced to take the off ramp.
Sometimes we get stopped in traffic, so to speak, stopped by illnesses or difficulties; or perhaps we are lost and don’t know where to go. These kinds of trials and tribulations can bring much meaning to our lives. When we’re forced to slow down by sickness, this gives us an opportunity to reflect on where our life is going. At other times we are able to travel the road of life going at a very high speed, but perhaps going in the wrong direction!
St. Paul was someone who knew about a road trip because he took so many of them in the New Testament. He points out that not only are our afflictions not always something “bad for us”; but, in fact, he rejoices in his afflictions! He even boasts of his afflictions! Why? Because our suffering can produce endurance and endurance shapes our character, and a proven character gives us hope, and hope leads us to eternal life (Romans 5:1-5).
This is certainly true when we think of any committed relationship such as marriage. Love is not proved by the good times we have with someone, so much as by the tough times. It’s when we have been there for somebody when it isn’t easy that we know we love them. This is what builds our character and solidifies our relationships with each other. In the same way, what we’ve gone through in our lives is something that we also share with the Lord who suffered very much in his short life. The whole point of our trials is that we will grow. A great saint once begged God to take a cross away from someone that they were praying for and the Lord said to her, “I cannot take their suffering away from them until they learn what they need to learn from it. Only then will I remove that cross (Saint Faustina)”. What is God expecting us to learn from our sufferings? Perhaps endurance – character building – hope – eternal life.