Overcoming Discouragement and Despondency (part 2)

–This post is quite lengthy, but when the ideas contained within it are properly understood, the affect on our lives will be profound and potentially life-changing (as it has been for me) —

In the previous post I said that I would provide a key to understanding the insights provided i.e. a key to overcoming discouragement.  Firstly, it is necessary to include a word about trials and God’s justice. Without this understanding we are likely to fall prey to discouragement and ingratitude, which often stem from ignorance (this can be remedied or prevented to a large degree by prayer, spiritual reading and meditation). (The book ‘Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence’ will surely help you to see that everything God wills or permits is for our benefit).

We must not deceive ourselves- the road to perfection and eternal happiness is marked with temptation and suffering. But that should be no reason for discouragement- they are there for own good (e.g. to acquire virtue, to show love of God, or to share in His precious gift of the Cross). A single act of love, for example, suffices to merit for us a reward that will be enjoyed eternally! Thus it could be said that the value of an act of love infinitely surpasses the value of any created good or earthly pleasure! Do we really believe this? Do we value love and virtue as much as we should? Let us beg God for this grace!

The following words- rather than inciting fear- should prevent confusion or presumption, such as that which stems from the belief that all are saved automatically, thus rendering suffering useless and cruel, rather than a necessary part of God’s loving Providence, which desires not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked should turn from his ways, and live (Hebrews 12:6; Ezekiel 18:23):

“The sinner would like God to be merciful without being just, but this is impossible… such… would not be goodness, but a lack of justice.” – St. Alphonsus Liguori

“God is not the Father of Judgement, but only the Father of Mercy, and punishment comes from our own selves.” – St. Bernard

Put simply: God is not indifferent to evil (which affects every being in some way). No, God is Love. Love must necessarily be opposed to evil. Even when God punishes, He acts from love (Hebrews 12:6). We must believe this firmly, keeping in mind that sin- an infinite offence- is the worst evil, and that God wants to save us from its effects. Only God truly knows the nature and gravity of sin; as created, finite beings we cannot fully comprehend it. We must never believe that God is unjust or unfair (this is impossible). With this truth in mind, let us always be full of gratitude towards God Who is so merciful towards sinners! Even if you had committed every sin imaginable, God would still love you (see my earlier posts if you doubt this); it is up to us to respond to God’s grace, remembering the following words of Our Lord:

“Consolata, you must never forget that I always am, and love to be, kind and merciful towards My creatures.” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

“I seek nothing so much as to exercise Mercy continually.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero

God only distributes justice when He is bound to do so:

“If only you knew how I suffer when I must dispense justice. You see, My Heart needs to be comforted; It wishes to dispense mercy, not justice!” – Jesus to Sr. Consolata Betrone

“The door of My Justice… is shut and locked; and I open it only to him who compels Me to do so; but I never open it spontaneously… To exercise Justice is for Me to go against the current; it does violence to Me.” – Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata Ferrero

We must have blind trust in God’s loving Providence, which is never harsh, but always compassionate: “Everything comes from love; all is ordained for the salvation of man. God does nothing without this goal in mind.” (St. Catherine of Siena). As the Mystical Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), we can expect to undergo similar sufferings to our Divine Master- the Divine Model which we must imitate: Jesus Christ Himself. Is this a reason to get discouraged? No! We must see this as an immense privilege! After all, suffering “… is a medicine for salvation”, “… the greatest gift God could bestow on His Elect on earth”, “a kiss that Jesus hanging from the cross bestows on persons whom He loves in a special way”, “a great favour” (St. Augustine; St. Louis de Montfort; St. Bonaventure; St. Teresa).

Regardless of what we experience in life- whether it be suffering, scruples, the death of a loved one, or dryness in prayer- we must submit to God’s incomprehensible, wise and infinitely-loving plans. Such trust gives great glory to God and it is intrinsic to our happiness and salvation. Distrust of God closes our hearts and wounds His most tender Heart, which thirsts for our love!

It is very important for us- through prayer, meditation and spiritual reading- to fix in our hearts and minds the promises of God, the love and mercy of God, the value of an act of love, the graces that He has given us, the graces that He wishes to give us etc. In a word, everything that will inspire us with love, gratitude, humility, confidence etc. This is a lifelong effort. Once you have committed to doing this you are ready to hear the (or at least ONE) key to overcoming discouragement; to growing in love of God; to fulfilling God’s will and thus attaining to happiness and salvation. Here it is, in the form of three principles (just think three/Trinity):

1. GOD ALWAYS ACTS ACCORDING TO HIS NATURE: LOVE.

2. WITHOUT God we can do NOTHING. (John 15:5)

3. WITH God we can do ALL THINGS. (Philippians 4:13)

(I will explain these principles in the following post, which will be uploaded within a few hours at the most).

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