Christian Counselors Can Use St. John The Baptist As A Paradigm of Fortitude
So many lose hope in Christ when their prayers are not answered the way they wish them to be answered. Christian Counselors face this everyday. The unrelenting questions of why did God not do this or do that.
Christians tend to relate to prayer as a contract. If I say this or do that, then God must answer this or that. As if a magical spell, they expect. And when that expectation fails, they either blame their own faith or curse the heavens. Some even doubt their faith. Such misunderstandings of Christianity lead to many lost souls.
One paradigm to emulate is St. John the Baptist. If any a man was close to Christ, it was this man who was not only a brother of Christ in faith but aslo physically a cousin by blood. St. John lived his life for God, offered everything and became the forerunner of the Messiah. He even baptized Jesus!
With such a lofty resume, St. John was still imprisoned. St. John was still beheaded. Yet, St. John, if anyone, would have a legitimate gripe with God, but he did not. He did not demand that his cousin and God made man, Jesus, save him. He did not curse God that the gates of Herod did not magically open for him at night. Instead, he accepted his cross. St. John accepted the will of the Father and submitted his will to him. Do not think for a moment, St. John did not fear death, or wished for rescue, but in his faith, his prayer joined with the will of the Father. This is a fortitude that we must emulate in our own pilgrim voyage on Earth. We cannot expect deliverance from everything, but what we can expect is God’s grace to carry us through it.
Even Christ, who desired to save St. John, could not for it was not the will of the Father. This same fortitude manifested in Christ when he submitted himself like a lamb to the slaughterers. In our sicknesses, crosses and pains we experience in life, we must learn if not now, soon, that prayer is not always about deliverance but for the most part acceptance of the situation–and when, if it does, when the Lord does spare us, let us give him praise, but no more praise than if he did not.
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Mark Moran, MA