Hope is related to trust; trust is related to faith; faith is related to confidence.
HUMAN FAITH. Countless times every day we place our faith and trust in persons, companies, institutions, and even ideas. In very simple and constant ways we entrust ourselves to others. The examples are concrete and limitless!
We trust the pilot in the plane that he knows where he is going and has been trained properly to fly an airplane. We never doubt his competence in the air.
Undergoing an operation we trust that the surgeon is not a mistaken butcher. We trust that he knows where to cut, how deep to cut, when to stop cutting and when to start sewing as well as which anesthesiologist to assist him in the task.
You hop in to the car beside the driver. You have placed your trust in the driver that he knows when to start, to brake, when to turn left and right and when to stop and that he knows where he is going!
Therefore, if we can place our faith and trust in human persons and institutions, and we know that they are fallible, why cannot we entrust ourselves to God’s care, his loving and kind Providence? We know that God indeed is worthy of our total trust and at all times.
What then are ways that we can bolster our faith and our trust in God?
1. WORD OF GOD. Read, meditate and assimilate prayerfully the Word of God that is both light and a lamp for our steps. Below are key passages:
“If God is with us then who can be against us.”
“Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.”
“The Lord is my light and my strength, whom should I be afraid?”
“The Lord is my Shepherd there is nothing I shall lack.” (Psalm 23)
“The Lord is the firm rock on which I will build my house.”(Mt 7)
“Look at the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. If God watches over them, will He not watch over you of little faith.”
“Not one of your hairs will fall to the ground without your Father knowing.”
“God knows even the number of hairs that you have on your head and even when one falls.”
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and everything else will be given to you.”
“Lord I do believe but strengthen my faith.”
2. DIVINE MERCY DEVOTION. One of the fastest growing devotions in the past few years is “Divine Mercy” promoted by Pope John Paul II and the 1st saint he canonized for the new Millennium, Saint Faustina Maria Kowalska. She was canonized on the same day that the same Pope instituted the Solemnity of Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday following Easter, being the crown and culmination of the Easter Octave in which we celebrate the “Solemnity of Solemnities”, the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore, to truly foster faith, trust and the virtue of hope, it is highly recommended the purchasing, reading, better yet, “meditating on the “Diary: Divine Mercy in my soul” by St. Faustina Kowalska. Reading prayerful this masterpiece it would be almost impossible to leave it without growing in trust in God’s loving Divine Providence in your life.
3. VISITATION OF THE EUCHARISTIC LORD AND HONEST CONVERSATION. Friendship with Christ will lead to a greater trust and hope in His providential design in your life. Pope Benedict XVI has insisted from the start of his pontificate that Jesus become real to us, as an intimate friend. A key characteristic of true friends is that of trust. If we can entrust our lives to true friends, how much more should we be willing to entrust our lives to the best of friends, the friend that will never fail us Jesus the Lord! Read prayerfully from Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” We have faith in, trust firmly and love ardently a person that we know has undergone fatigue, pains, and intense suffering for us. That is true love!We know theologically and maybe theoretically that Jesus did come to save me. Also, we have heard it probably many times that He suffered for our salvation. Still more, if we have made the Ignatian Exercises contemplating Jesus in His Passion, we heard that Jesus suffered “all” of that for me. Nonetheless, there is still a strong probability that interiorly I am not convinced that Jesus really was scourged for me; He was crowned with thorns for me; He carried His cross for me; He was stripped of His garments with those gaping wounds ripped open again for me; He was nailed to the cross for me; He suffered a bitter agony that lasted close to three hours for me; He shed every drop of His Precious Blood for me; even after He died, He allowed His Sacred Heart to be pierced by the lance for me…. With this keen awareness of the personal character of Jesus’ love and Friendship for you the faith, trust, and hope in the Lord will flourish.
4. FAITH, HOPE AND TRUST— EVEN IN SUFFERINGS AND TRIALS! Most likely our most challenging circumstance is when God willingly visits us with trials which entail at times great suffering. It is not always easy to chime in with Holy Job, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I return to the earth. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” This is where our faith, hope and trust is really put to the test! In these times we must call to mind that God’s love for us and for me individually never changes; it is immutable, constant, and permanent!
A Biblical passage that has proved exceedingly helpful for me especially in times of trial and distress is Jesus and Peter walking on the water. (Mt. 14:22-33) Read and meditate this passage prayerfully. Imagine the Apostles! Tired from a long day’s work, hungry having eaten little, freezing with the wind and cold water splashing them, still more terrified with fear at seeing “A ghost” walking on the water, Jesus tries to reassure them that it is really Him! Peter wants to make sure and tells the Lord to tell him to leave the boat and walk in the water toward Him. “Come!” Peter actually walks on the water, but sinks! Why? The reason is simple! Peter focused more on the problem than on the Person who could solve the problem— the Lord Jesus.
Indeed this is our problem! In the problems of life, instead of turning towards Jesus, walking towards Jesus and focusing our eyes on Jesus, we lift our eyes off Him and focus more on the problem, which like a tsunami wave overwhelms us and engulfs us! Like Peter let us cry out in the midst of our problems: LORD JESUS SAVE ME!!
5. TRUST IN MARY; OUR LADY OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE. As any mother who sees her child about to fall will quickly run to the child’s rescue and if the child falls then the mother will speedily lift the child, kiss and hug the child tending to the child’s wound, so Mary our heavenly Mother will run to our aid, especially when we are weakest, most vulnerable and ready to sink into the moral quicksand!
One of the saints who was known to have most trust in God’s Divine Providence and Our Lady of Divine Providence was Saint Joseph Cottolegno who was a contemporary of both St. John Bosco and Saint Joseph Cafasso. Cottolegno, placing a limitless trust in God, opened homes for the handicapped. His only condition was that the center would be run on daily contributions. Close to 150 years since the foundation it still exists under the title of “Piccola Casa” in the heart of Turin. The saint wanted to trust in God for everything in every circumstance and in every moment.It is recorded of him an extraordinary incident of trust in Jesus and Mary under the title of MOTHER OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE. In huge debt, as was normal for the saint, he told a helper to go to buy bread for the poor. The helper asked for the money, upon which the saint said he had none but to go anyway! Bewildered, the helper set off to purchase food with nothing in the pocket. On the way a beautiful majestic woman appeared and gently handed to the helper a bag that was filled with money, just enough to pay the past debt and to pay for the food for the day—“Give us this day our daily bread…” The identity of this beautiful majestic woman was Our Lady under the title of MOTHER OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE.
Remember the prayer of St. Bernard, the Memorare, “Never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection or sought your help was left unaided…” In conclusion Jesus desires most ardently that we place our total trust in Him in all times, all circumstances and all moments. By meditating on the word of God, becoming familiar with the Divine Mercy Devotion and text of St. Faustina, by visiting and talking to Jesus in the Eucharist as the best of Friends, by accepting trials as God’s will, and finally by placing our lives in the hands and Heart of Mother of Divine Providence our faith will grow, our confidence will be fortified and our hope will reach no limits until we reach heaven!