October 7, 2011

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

We are called to show that God is right here among us

Patti LambI know a sweet, fragile woman with a heart of gold. She has been through a lot in 83 years, but perhaps these past few years have been the toughest.

She has lost her eyesight, her health has deteriorated, and then she lost her husband—her other half—whose mission and firm promise it was to care for her until her dying day.

One day when this woman’s younger sister saw her struggling to complete the simple task of tying her shoe, her sister began to doubt and asked out loud, “Where is God in all this?” It didn’t seem fair that the elderly little woman had to endure so many trials.

I was in the room that morning, but I remained silent. It seemed like a rhetorical question.

Later that same week, a friend gave me a copy of a beautiful quotation, and it helped to address the woman’s question regarding God’s whereabouts. The quote is by St. Teresa of Avila.

These are her words: “Christ has no body now on Earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the Earth, yours are the feet by which he is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands by which he is to bless us now.”

So when I wonder about where God is in the midst of bad things happening around us, the answer becomes a bit clearer. He is working through us, wherever we are. He is in us, and it is up to us to carry out his work.

It turns out that his work is often an inconvenience and, typically, it is far from glamorous.

Still, there is work to be done. We need to use our ears to listen to our friends’ problems. We must use our hands to prepare meals for sick neighbors. We should use our mouths to offer words of encouragement to the heartsick. Our nimble young fingers can be used to tie an old woman’s shoe when she can’t bend over and do it herself.

As Scripture tells us, when we do it for the least of humankind, we do it for God.

There are so many ways to answer his call. Small acts of kindness may seem insignificant to us, but to those we are helping, they are answers to prayers.

There are times when I look around and I am baffled by all the suffering that I witness. And I wonder why God doesn’t intervene. But then I realize that we have got to be his hands and feet. We are the body of Christ. If we each just do a small part, we are a giant force for good and for God.

We must be careful to listen for his call.

That call might come in the form of an elderly relative needing some company to cheer her. A pot of mums and a visit go a long way in brightening her porch and her spirits.

Or the call could come from an overwhelmed mother holding a bawling baby in line at the grocery store. If we offer her an understanding smile and a wink, we are showing her the kind face of God. Opportunities abound in daily life.

We are extensions of God’s very self.

So the next time we find ourselves wondering where God is, I hope we can remember that God works through each of us.

We are called to show others that God is right here among us.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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