Written by Merola Ishak
3 February, 2023
Merola is an OCCM member studying at the University of South Florida
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Within a world full of sin and tribulations, there is only one solution: look towards the Lord. It’s difficult to ignore the problems being thrown at us, the stress suffocating us, the people judging us; yet there is always one constant amongst all of our daily issues, and that is Our Savior. As David wrote in Psalm 55, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.” Humans were created intentionally weak; not because God didn’t want us to be strong, but because He is the source of our strength. We must only be humble enough to ask for His aid rather than continuing in our prideful ways, claiming to have our life together as we are completely broken inside.
Sins have the power to tether us to this destructive world. Our “bad habits” that keep reoccurring are truly addictions, but as a father priest stated before, “we are simply too afraid to claim them as such” (Messeh, Fr. Anthony). Peer pressure forces us into the current, along with the rest of the world. Alone, we won’t be able to pull ourselves out. It’s easy to “go with the flow” in this world, to fall into the temptations that so many others have fallen into, and we deceive ourselves by claiming that this behavior is normal. We compare ourselves to those both within the denomination, and outside of it. However, this thought process is directly opposed to the Bible as it states, “…let each examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load” (Galatians 6:4-5). It will do us no good to judge others, but rather, it will add onto our own sins. On Judgement Day, we will be judged only according to our own doings, and not the doings of others, or the peer pressure that fooled us into believing that certain actions weren’t wrong. We must be brave enough to disconnect with the world’s ways, allowing God to steer the wheel in each area of our lives.
As time passes, we repeatedly find ourselves in a routine regarding our spiritual lives. Although, it’s vital to have a system dedicating time for reading the Bible and praying, it should never feel like a chore. Reading the Bible does not make up for other sins that we constantly fall into with no repentance or regret. We pretend that God doesn’t see the rest of our lives. Rather than going to Church once a week and coming out the same as before, still hurting from problems we have and sins we need help breaking out of, we should open the door for God to come in and heal us. There is a Father up above that cares for all of His children and hates to see them hurting. However, we try to block Him out of our lives, forgetting that He cares and can help. Try inviting God into every aspect of your life, even into the parts that you’re ashamed to admit or show. Even if the whole world mocks you, God will not, no matter how bad you think you messed up. He will sort through the clutter in your mind and help you rise back on your feet. Getting swept up in the flow of the world is difficult to admit, even to ourselves, but we underestimate the power of Our Lord. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, just the opposite. Turn to the Bible when you are weak as it is written, “‘Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand’” (Isaiah 41:10).
Being chained to the world is horrible to imagine, but it’s a harsh reality for most of us, even if we don’t care to admit it. Throughout it all, though, there is always a hand reaching out to us. Just as Peter lost sight of the Lord for a second and absorbed the reality of the impossible situation he was in - walking on water - we too tend to forget that there is a life after death. Getting too absorbed into the world we are in now is overwhelming. However, remember that there is always more, and that God is there to support us through all our stumbles. Keep God in your mind all day long; “praying without ceasing” can be accomplished, and it is the most wonderful thing in the world. Inviting God into every part of your life will eliminate most of the sins that you tend to fall into. Problems that arise will be easier to tackle with God at your side. Don’t be afraid to shut out others who may hinder your connection with God. Even if there is no one left at your side, He will be there. Remember, “‘…He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed’” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Even if the whole world goes one way, the children of God go the other way towards
righteousness. Just as salmon must swim against the current annually in order to reproduce a new generation, so should we fight towards what’s right and prophesize to allow more to know about the greatness of the Lord. Not all salmon make it upstream, and the same is true for us, “‘Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it’” (Matthew 7:14). No matter how difficult it may seem to abandon the ways of the world, through God, all is possible. He will guide us to a new life and stay with us every step of the way as soon as we open the door for Him to come in and grant Him access to our lives. God doesn’t need us to recite to Him a few memorized prayers every day or read the Bible as our mind meanders elsewhere. Instead, He wants us to come to Him first when we wake up, when we are stressed out, when we are bored and lonely. He should always be there in our minds, no matter the situation. Pray to have a close relationship with God because, with this relationship, nothing else is needed in our lives.