I ask this because, getting confessional here, I am in the midst of two novenas. Perhaps not surprisingly, the intentions slightly overlap one another, as though just in case one doesn't do it, I've a back up plan.
But God doesn't need back up plans, does He? He is, after all, God. He is the uncreated Creator, the first cause, the unmovable mover Who is without beginning or end. He is the sole Absolute Being, everything else being contingent on His love for its existence. He can do anything. So why the doubt?
Could it be it's as much worry that comes from a pride that says, "I want the prayer to read 'My will be done,' not 'Thy will be done.' I want what I want. 'I want it all,' to quote Freddie Mercury, the late lead singer of the rock band Queen, 'and I want it now.' God may not give that to me. Ergo, it logically follows that I cannot trust Him. But, hey! I have faith He can move mountains. I am a man/woman of faith! Amen! Alleluia!"
I don't know. Or maybe I do know, and I simply don't want to admit it.
This affliction is not confined to us poor, miserable non-saints, either. It appears to affect even the greatest of saints. It is said, for instance, that as Padre Pio's father Grazio Forgione was dying, he asked his son to get God to grant him a miracle so that he could go on living. Padre Pio refused, saying something to the effect of, "God never answers my prayers." (I'm sorry; I can neither recall nor find the source for this.)
Recall that this man received answers to untold numbers of prayers on behalf of others. He was a wonder (i.e., miracle) worker in his own time. And yet he told his own father as that man lay dying, "God never answers my prayers." In other words, "God never answers my own prayers ... my prayers for me." Why? Was there some small doubt about whether God would grant them? Maybe not, but ... well, maybe so. Padre Pio wasn't divine. He was human, too. Exceptionally holy, to be sure, but human and a sinner in need of forgiveness, even so.
I muse on this because just this morning, God gave me a little nudge toward thinking in this direction.
I'd recently picked up a copy of the July 2012 issue of Serenity, the magazine of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and only opened it this morning while looking for something to read at breakfast. The first article shared the title of this post and reads as follows (I wish it was online so you could see the whole thing, but I'm sharing the relevant parts):
John Paul II once said that the saving power of God is manifested when signs and miracles are performed through the intercession "of saints, of devout people" -- just as the first of Jesus' signs at Cana of Galilee was worked through the intercession of His mother. Miracles remind us that through the saving power of Christ, the human person is destined for glory. But they undoubtedly raise questions of faith: Are we ready to believe that God acts so directly in our lives? This was the question posed by Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand and her superior, Sister Marie Thomas Fabre, as they addressed the annual conference of Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy, May 1-2, 2012, sharing the story of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre's miraculous cure through the intercession of none other than Blessed John Paul II himself.So we go in sorta half-heartedly believing God can answer prayers, but how much does our doubt make us like those who went away empty "because of their unbelief"? God can act in spite of that inherent doubt, for sure, but how often should He? You can argue both ways: A) If He answers prayers in spite of our doubt, we'll have less inclination to doubt, but B) If He answers prayers in spite of our doubt, part of us will still always doubt, and we will never learn to wholly rely on and trust in Him.
"He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Mt 13:58). These sad words reveal how much Jesus linked faith with his proclamation of the Kingdom. Where He was met with unbelief, Jesus was unable to perform the signs and miracles that defined His mission. But among those who believed, anything was possible -- as He told Martha when He raised her brother Lazarus from the dead: "Did I not tell you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?" (Jn 11:40)
"Be not afraid. For with God, all things are possible." "Trust in and give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His mercy endures forever." "For I have a plan for you, says the Lord, a plan for welfare and not for evil."
Banish the distrust, I tell myself. Step into the light of faith, of trust, of acceptance that no matter what happens, God's good will is being done, and that He will provide, for He knows what we cannot know, He sees what we cannot see, His ways are not our ways, His plans not our plans. And who knows better? He Who is eternal, or we who are contingent, but temporary beings, tiny specks on the road of time as it marches toward its completion in eternity?
Thank You, Lord. Thank You. Thank You for answering my prayers, even when that answer is no.