The Master Sculptor
In this scheme of creation, every human being has in some way or another been touched by the wave of adversity. No one has been spared from the bitter-sweet taste of its effects. Whatever form our trials may take - sickness, financial burden, the loss of a loved one or rejection - we tend to consider them as setbacks in our life. More often than not, these painful trials leave lasting scars and the grief never seems to fully subside.
Caught in the whirlwind, we are then overtaken by the all-consuming force of worry. Like serpents, worry and fear creep into our minds and create havoc. We live in a state of frustration that is never relieved. A dark and bleak image of the future is envisioned and the present moment is clouded with the shadow of yesterday. We tend to question the existence of God and wonder if an all-powerful God, a so-called beloved Father, could have abandoned us or acted arbitrarily in our time of need.
However, God’s perspective is not the same as ours. Our life can be viewed as a tapestry. From man’s restrictive standpoint, life seems irrational and without design. But viewed from above, from God’s vantage point, every twist and turn in our lives has a purpose in the grand design.
Our Lord and Saviour lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: “Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven.”
Saint Rose of Lima, as quoted in The Wisdom of the Saints: An Anthology
Faith is the vital facet in our relationship with God. It is the trust we exhibit when we are thrown in the raging, stormy ocean of life’s hardships and yet cling on to our battered plank of conviction with stiff, weary arms. It is this little flickering flame of trust that tells us that there is an invisible God who promises us spiritual liberation from the trials of this life. It is the spiritual mortar that strengthens our endurance against tempests. The more we turn our mind and heart toward a positive awareness of God, the more God reveals himself to us. Such is his kindness and mercy that he cannot bear to see his children suffer. He stands by us full of affection, grace and courage if only we stretch out our hand to reach him. Once we are convinced that we are children of God and realize the vast immensity of his love, we will never be defeated by any hardship.
Do not look forward to the trials and crosses of this life with dread and fear…. Do you but hold fast to his dear hand and he will lead you safely through all trials…. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day of your life. Either he will shield you from suffering, or he will give you the unfailing strength to bear it.
Saint Francis de Sales as quoted in A Collection of My Favorite Prayers
Every trial, setback or adversity enters our life with a purpose. Nothing happens to us without God’s approval. He is sculpting us to refine us into what he wants us to be. Just as the clarity and the brilliance of a diamond is brought about through friction, God wants us to be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, thus revealing our true identity. All that we suffer and all that we withstand purifies our heart and expands our soul. Rabindranath Tagore clearly understood that adversities were a necessary ingredient in the purification of the soul when he pleaded:
Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.
In the same light, the great mystic poet, Rumi shared his sentiments by saying:
What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle.
As quoted in Letting the Light In
It is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation that we are able to realize our own weakness and acknowledge the manifestation of God working in our lives.
Welcome the moment of suffering, for it reminds you of the Lord. It comes through his grace, not otherwise. So do not get perturbed in suffering.
Baba Jaimal Singh, Spiritual Letters
In the hands of the master sculptor, every weary soul is completely renewed and totally transformed. The metamorphosis takes place and the soul radiates in its own brilliance. Lying in the bosom of his Beloved, comforted by the embracing arms of his affectionate Father, he is welcomed into the eternal sanctuary. He is exalted forever and his heart is purified. No storm, sorrow or fear can ever submerge him again.