There is so much happening in the world lately. Monthly terrorist attacks, freak animal accidents, natural disasters. Makes you stand up and take notice.
Isn't it interesting how when these things happen, the world suddenly says, "Let's pray." Everyone turns to God, even those who don't believe.
I've been asking myself for years now why "this" is happening in the world today. Why the increase of tragedies and evil? The answer is simple, almost too simple: it is the result of sin.
Sin is evil and we can all agree that we see an increase of evil. God gives us free will and this is how we (though not all) have chosen to live our lives. And so, as a result: the increase of evil acts, natural disasters. Even strange animal behavior. It's the consequence of evil.
But with this horrible evil, the terrible tragedies, the scariness of the world, people are suddenly saying: "God".
Those who don't believe even begin to wonder. Those who have ignored Him all their lives suddenly remember Him. And those who have pondered Him all their lives just know.
I have an experience that happened to me a while ago; I don't often speak of it. It's too personal, too hard to explain. I don't know if people will really understand. But then, all these things that are happening in the world and the way people are starting to realize that God is truly God makes me think that maybe people will understand.
When words fail me, I use pictures.
|Not my house. And I've never owned a cat.|
This picture above reminds me (sort of) my experience of waiting for help to arrive. It was dark out, and cold too, though I didn't notice the cold. I had just put the kids to bed for the night. I tucked them in and said I would see them in the morning like I always did.
I talked to my sister on the phone. We had just both had babies. I planned out Lucy's birthday party. She was going to turn four. I fed Anna, then only nine days old. As I nursed her, I thought about Christmas and the shopping I had to do.
And then just like that, I was having a heart attack. Put Anna down half-fed in her bassinet. Even then, with pressure on my chest like I had never felt before, feeling woozy and nauseated, I could hear her cries and feeling upset that I couldn't finish feeding her.
Somehow got Dennis to believe me that I was having a heart attack, not a panic attack. Together, we climbed the stairs to the front door, Dennis nearly dragging me, and we sat on the front steps and waited for help to arrive.
This picture above sort of explains how I was feeling on the inside. I found this after Googling "dying" and unfortunately, this is what I can relate to.
God had allowed St.Faustina to experience death without actually dying; but believed with all her heart that she was dying. "Dying is terrible!" she wrote. He allowed this for a special reason, though I'm sure it felt like a real mean trick to her at the time.
As we waited on the porch steps in the dark, Dennis talked to the 911 dispatcher.
During this time I was fighting. I was fighting to live, fighting to breathe, fighting to just keep going. I was also fighting nausea, trying hard not throw up. I felt all sorts of things that weren't "normal", like the insane chest pressure (like three men sitting on my chest), a strange cooling sensation working it's way through my body (my blood flow slowing down) and the wooziness. But I knew that if I threw up, that would be it. My heart wouldn't be able to take the stress. I did end up throwing up later--when they did CPR on me. (It's said that is a pretty common thing.)
But inside, I was fighting despair, for the question wouldn't leave me: "Where is God????"
Where did He go?
Why has He abandoned me?
Does He exist??
What about the kids?
What about Dennis?
Will he remarry?
Will she be Catholic?
How will they make it without a mother??
Regardless of how I was feeling, I believed simply from the sheer will of wanting to believe. Thanks be to God, for giving me this grace, even though I was completely unaware of it.
The picture above shows nothing but black, not even a tiny bit of light. This is how I felt on the inside. Like God was gone. This is how it looks when there is no God. And if there was one, He abandoned me.
I tried to pray but He wasn't there. I couldn't form words in my head or heart. Everything ran together or were just fragments here and there. I had nothing. Nothing. It was truly death.
This is why I never tell people my story. It is too sad. Almost hopeless. The few times I have tried, people have become confused and upset, because in their lives, God has not yet "abandoned" them. It is disconcerting to them to hear such a story.
The EndAs I sat on the steps, I knew I was dying. I could feel myself dying. I didn't even have the strength to sit up; Dennis was holding me up.
As I said, there was nothing but spiritual turmoil going on within me. I had my fears, my concerns, my worries. I was trying to figure out how this was all going to work, without me being with my kids anymore. I wondered what my kids would think when I wouldn't be there with them in the morning. It's funny how a mother never stops trying to take care of her kids, even when she's dying.
My voice had changed. I had been gasping "Where are they?" (the ambulance) the entire time but during those few minutes, my voice changed into something that sounded like a possessed man--totally inhuman. (This was from a lack of oxygen.) I remember feeling shock and fear at hearing myself, but continued to talk anyway, just for the sake of trying to stay alive.
And then, the worst finally came--my heart stopped. I was holding my pulse the entire time, which had been pulsating at a crazy pace through my neck, and then it was gone. I felt all over. Nothing.
"My heart stopped." I croaked to Dennis.
"It couldn't have stopped, you're still talking." Dennis said.
I wanted to clobber him. Of all the times to argue with me. But I didn't have the strength. Instead I asked one last time, "Where are they??"
And then, suddenly, a police car rounded the corner. I remember thinking hazily how it was strange he didn't have his sirens or lights on. I remember Dennis suddenly yelling out with relief in his voice, "There!" And a spark of hope suddenly pierced the night.
And then everything went black.
From here, I went to a "place" that was not an actual place, but I believe a state of my soul. Back to completely darkness, but this time, with lights that resembled stars in the sky. Here, I floated in complete bliss and ignorance as the memory of my heart attack faded away, as well as memories of my family and even myself. I didn't have an identity; I only knew that I existed.
I had no worries or concerns; there was no sense of time. I felt one thing only. And that was peace.
Looking back on my experience, I can only relate to one thing. And that is a baby in a womb.
When I woke up from my ordeal, I had only one feeling left: and that was complete awe.
Not awe that I survived (though there was some of that too) but awe because I had That Moment.
That *moment* where I saw God.
I didn't see Him with my eyes or even with my soul. But I saw His power and might. I saw His awesomeness. I saw Him in fear. I saw Him as the angels do, with wings covering their heads. With His majesty and power. With some fear too, because it is difficult--impossible--to comprehend God.
It took me a really long time to start to pray to God again because I was so afraid. That fear that I felt was not part of God of course. What I should have had was some spiritual direction to help me through what I was going through, but every time I tried to speak of my feelings, I couldn't find the words. But God helped me through that time and helped me to trust Him fully, instead of just a little bit of at a time.
My last picture is of the Transfiguration. That moment when the disciples saw Jesus in all His glory. They began to sputter and chatter nervously, unable to contain their fear, joy and all emotions, they were so beside themselves.
And then God spoke and said, "This is my Divine Son. Listen to Him!" (Mark 9:7)
And they threw themselves down on the ground, because God had spoken.
So the world is going crazy, spinning around and leaving us dizzy, making us wonder where God is in all of this. Why is He letting this happen, why are so many good people dying. He's letting us wonder and ponder His existence.
That isn't such a bad thing.
But once we have made our choice once we make the decision as to whether we truly believe or not, we will know that God is truly God. And like the disciples who saw Jesus clothed in lights and glory, we won't ever go back to wondering. Because we too, will have seen God. And that's how we will get through this time of darkness and chaos.
When bad things happen, I am back on those porch steps, waiting for help, waiting to be saved, and at times, wondering where God is.
But then He reveals Himself all over again to me, reminding me that this time is not forever. It's a time of testing, a time to ponder. And He is already won the battle, because He is God.
Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you after you have suffered a little. To him be dominion forever.
Peter 1 5:8