I know that the Lord is infinitely just and it is that justice, which terrifies so many souls, that is the reason for my joy and trust. Being just does not only mean exercising severity to punish the guilty, it also means recognizing upright intentions and rewarding virtue. I hope for as much from God’s justice as from his mercy. It is because he is just that “he is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love … for he knows our weakness, he remembers that we are dust. … As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities us.”
God is not scandalized by our weaknesses. Provided he finds in us good will and trust, we can be
This filial relationship with God, expressed and deepened especially in prayer, is not always easy to develop today. It is not obvious how to live as little children in such a pitiless, competitive world. We must be adult, able sometimes to fight, while still keeping a child’s heart which rests in God and abandons itself to him. He will certainly know how to defend us. He is our Father, and he is faithful. All too often we get agitated instead of relying trustingly on God. This work of restoring trust in our hearts is an essential aspect of the spiritual life. Wounded by original sin, our hearts are riddled with fears and doubts. It takes time to be cured of them. Maybe that will never happen completely in this life, but we can nevertheless make great strides in trusting more.
Another thing that increases our trust is to make acts of faith. Faith grows when it is exercised. What is an act of faith? It’s very simple. We are tempted to worry, for instance, because we’re going to have major surgery in two weeks, or one of our children is going through a difficult time. We say to our Lord, “I trust you. I leave this situation in your hands, and I know you’ll look after it.” There are thousands of examples like that. I am a great believer in the effectiveness of acts of faith. We’re not talking here about a magic wand that makes every problem disappear. But those little choices of trust and faith will bear fruit sooner or later. It may be only in ten or twenty years’ time; that doesn’t matter. I love the Gospel image of the grain of mustard seed. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when sown in the ground it grows up into almost a tree. All those acts of faith that may seem sterile, with no immediate results that we can see, are like seeds. Those seeds will unfailingly bear fruit in due course. It doesn’t matter whether in five minutes or ten years: let’s allow God’s wisdom to work.
- Fr. Philippe, Jacques. The Way of Trust and Love - A Retreat Guided by St. Therese of Lisieux, Scepter Publishers.