Have you ever had one of those days when you didn’t want to get out of bed? When you felt like you couldn’t face another day? When the challenges seemed so insurmountable you were discouraged about life?
Someone recently gave me a prayer written by a teenager who suffered from a debilitating illness and probably felt just like that. I keep her prayer on my nightstand so I can read it first thing in the morning and remember all that is good in this world and why I’m here…despite whatever pain and suffering comes my way. (Easier said than done.)
The prayer, along with a little emergency grace from God, certainly helps me. It says:
“Lord, let me wake up every morning and be thankful for the wonderful life that you have given me.
Help me to see the good in things.
Help me to be happy with who I am and the life I am living. Lead me down the path you have set for me.
Guide me in the way that I get to show the world my gifts.
I put all in your hands, Jesus. Use me as your vessel.
I thank you for my health, love, abilities, family, friends, and most of all this life.
I will do great things in your name.”
Nikole Drummond wrote that prayer in 2009, when she was 17 and in intense pain because of a disease she was suffering. It was a personal prayer she said to remind herself that even in her affliction, her life was a gift, and that Jesus was beside her every step of the way…and that Jesus had a plan for her life and that with his guidance, she could accomplish “great things.”
Sometimes I say her prayer more than once a day because it reminds me of fundamental spiritual truth that our secular society scoffs at: Life is a gift. All life is a gift. All life is created by God, which is why abortion is such a terrible thing.
I, too, need help looking for the good in things because it’s so easy to be predisposed to see the bad. It’s so easy to be cynical in a society that cultivates cynicism. Look around you. We have come to be defined by our anger and sarcasm—a spiritual disability made worse by the media.
We certainly need help seeing the good in things. There’s considerable goodness, and if we’re open to it, the Holy Spirit will direct us.
We all need divine help to be happy because in the end, following the plan that God has for us is the only real path to happiness. We’ll never find it in the enticements the world dangles before us—possessions, pleasure, power and prestige. They’re fake sources of happiness, and the tragedy is that so many people spend their entire lives pursuing them and never find the happiness they crave because, as St. Augustine said centuries ago, our hearts are restless until they rest in God.
Young people are programmed to achieve, succeed and acquire, but all they really need to do is follow the path God has for them. Have no doubt, God has a plan for you, and it’s a lot better than your plan.
As they say in 12 Step programs, we have to make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. Then, we will be, as Nikole said, “a vessel” and do great things in God’s name.
Despite her physical suffering, she also understood the importance of the attitude of gratitude amid suffering.
“I thank you for my health, love, abilities, family, friends, and most of all this life” she said.
I still remember what a Sister of St. Joseph taught me in catechism class many years ago when she said three simple words, “Offer it up.” Our suffering united to Christ’s “will bear fruit in this life and the next,” to quote the Litany of Trust, which is a prayer composed by Sr. Faustina Maria Pia, SV of the Sisters of Life.
We’ll never realize the full impact our small sacrifices have until we meet Jesus face to face, and he says, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
(Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)