Have I mentioned before that I’m a bit of a whinger? If I’d been wandering the desert with the Israelites, I would have been one of those Moses rebuked for being a murmurer of the woe-is-me variety. When I recently shared with a friend my list of sorrows (and believe me, in the grand scheme of things these measure at about a 3.7 out of 20 on the misery scale), she was delighted for me, saying how wonderful it was God loved me so much; that He was keeping me close to Himself.
That was a lesson in perspective, because of course God loves me! Of course He wants me to rely on Him for all things. He also wants me to trust in Him to provide all things, rather than in my own ability to get them. He also wants to do the providing. So, a little nudge now and then (or a rather large one as this tough nut may require) by way of turmoil and strife can, with the proper perspective, be seen as a love letter. Right in this moment the letter happens to be rather long, is all.
Why I’m thinking of this for today, the day we remember St. Laurence, is because of the beautiful example he gives us of how to accept God’s love letter with joy. We know he was martyred for being a Christian, a martyrdom he could have avoided by giving in to the Emperor’s demands of surrendering the ‘treasures of the Church’. Instead of earthly treasures, he gathered up the poor and the lame, presenting them to Valerian as the treasure he had asked for, which of course made the man angry and sealed the fate of Laurence. He was roasted while alive over a gridiron, and as legend tells us, joked about needing to be turned over as he was cooked enough on one side. Whether that is true or not, it speaks of the man’s joyful acceptance of whatever God willed for him, and there must have been enough examples of it in his life that this little joke was believable to the people who heard it. He didn’t only laugh at death however, he also prayed for the conversion of Rome and for the faith to be spread throughout the world.
This, too, is a lesson in perspective. It reminds me that suffering is unbearable only if I allow it to steal my joy and if I resist surrendering to God’s will. St. Laurence also teaches me that a sense of humour can probably get me through any situation, and that painful moments don’t last forever.
St. Laurence, pray for us.
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