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  • Writer's picturejamesbriankerr

Peaceable Man Files #41: Building Our Store of Faith


Hard times are coming.


Pain. Suffering. Sorrow. Losses beyond human bearing.


All the ills the flesh is heir to, magnified by the inevitable issues that come from growing older: It’s all heading your way, as sure as rain. Such is our lot in life.


Will you be ready? Will you have the faith needed to sustain you through the trials and get you to the other side?


These were the questions I was asking myself yesterday as I sat with my mother at the hospital following yet another age-related medical issue. On the way to visit her, I picked up a couple cheeseburgers at Burger King because I knew she likes hamburgers and thought she would be hungry.


I was right. When I set the burger in front of her, her eyes lit up and she dug into it as if it was the last food on earth. She insisted I have the second burger, though I’d bought it for her, and as we sat together savoring the chargrilled flavor that makes fast-food burgers so yummy (and so unhealthy), I made the casual remark that there was nothing quite like a cheeseburger, though they weren’t good for you.


“I don’t care,” she replied. “I’m not going to be around much longer.”


Meanwhile, in the bed next to hers, a poor elderly woman looked to be near the end as she lay unconscious and moaning in bed, her head thrown to the side, her mouth gaping open.


That’s when it struck me once again that I really needed to get my act together. As tough as our mother was, she was 90 years old (soon to be 91) and wasn’t going to be around forever, as she was always reminding me and my siblings.


Me either. I’ll be turning 65 at the end of this year. As healthy and energetic as I feel right now, I know that could change in a flash. The years go by quickly. It feels like yesterday that my parents were my age and still vital and full of life. Now, Dad is gone and Mom is growing frailer by the week.


Am I prepared for what’s to come? Will I have the strength and grace needed to face the losses of people, of health, of independence?


It all comes down to faith. How firm is my belief that this earthly world is but a prelude for something even greater where our joys will be undiminished by the limitations of our human bodies?


My mother has that deep faith. It’s as solid in her as an immovable ballast. I see it in the calm grace and acceptance she shows through every loss and age-related medical issue she goes through. She has that deep faith now because she has been storing it up throughout her life like a squirrel burying nuts for the winter.


Faith comes through practice. Mom has been practicing her faith for decades with all the prayers and novenas she has said. All of that practice has given her a deep store of acorns to feed on in this winter of her life.


I envy people with deep faith. They can get through anything. Anything.


My own faith has gotten me through many trials in my life—cancer, divorce, job loss, depression—but is it enough to get me through what lies ahead?


There’s only one way to make sure it does. Practice, practice, practice.


Pray unceasingly. Say novenas. Read spiritual books. Get back to church on a consistent basis. Let go of the silly concerns about the failings of institutional religion. Yes, they’re real, but they’re real because we live in a broken world.


It's never too late to store those nuts of faith. Lent is starting next week. It’s a good time to refresh and deepen my faith.


I’ve resolved to do it.


Will you do it with me?


Peace.

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