Persevere in faith and hope

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

ONCE again, since we are approaching the end of the liturgical year, the gospel readings these days remind us of the need for perseverance that is fueled with faith and hope despite all the severe trials we can meet along the way, since Christ will take care of everything as long as we go along with him as far as we can.

“By your perseverance you will secure your lives,” Christ told a crowd one time. (Lk 21,19) He listed down some terrible scenarios that can happen in our lives which we should just learn to endure, since he will always be with us, defending, protecting and teaching us how to react all the way.

“They will seize and persecute you…You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.” (Lk 21,12ff.)

Christ even said that we should not worry to prepare our defenses before all these possible severe trials, because as he said, “I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.” (Lk 21,15)

We have to remember that if Christ could not help but had to offer his life to save us, how can we think that our life and the world in general would take a different path? Remember Christ telling his disciples, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (Jn 15,20) But let’s always keep in mind his assurance, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16,33)

Let’s just have to learn how to suffer, always with Christ, that is, with faith, hope and optimism, convinced that all these troubles will always be for the good. It would also help a lot if we maintain a sporting spirit in life with a good and healthy sense of humor.

To be sure, we can manage to find joy in suffering only if we identify ourselves with Christ. With Christ, suffering becomes an act of selfless love that can take on anything. Only in him can we find joy and meaning in suffering. With him, suffering loses its purely negative and painful character, and assumes the happy salvific character.

We need to process this truth of our faith thoroughly, always asking for God’s grace and training all our powers and faculties to adapt to this reality. That’s why Christ told us clearly that if we want to follow him, we simply have to deny ourselves, carry the cross and follow him. There’s no other formula, given our wounded human condition.

This self-denial and carrying of Christ’s cross will enable us to see that suffering is obviously the consequence of all our sins—ours and those of others. Embracing suffering the way Christ embraced his cross unites our suffering with that of Christ.

For us to have this conviction, we really need to deepen and strengthen our faith which will lead us to have an unwavering hope that despite whatever, everything would just turn out right.

With faith and hope, we can manage to endure anything and to persevere, because as St. Paul told us once: “God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Phil 1,6)