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Complete Joy

Whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” (John 16:23-24) Sisters, I have to admit, my first reaction to these words is not to admire the beauty or hope that dwells within them. My reaction is one of pain and confusion and hurt, longing to understand the ways of our God and finding restlessness in the paradox of His mystery.

I have asked in your name, Jesus. It is when I am most hurting and truly in need of an answer that I cry out to you, Lord—when my grandpa was sick, when disordered eating was in control, when every job interview took another piece of my worth, when all I wanted was a friend. Years and years of asking, of pleading for some light in the darkness. Whose name, if not Yours, did I cling to, begging to be heard?

It is okay to be hurt and to express pain, but I also know that my human understanding of life and the universe is limited and can cloud my receptivity to God’s love. It is so much easier for me to sit in the hurt and soak in the pain than it is to search for the light and move out of the darkness. God is there with me in the hardest moments just as much as in the joyful ones. And as I look back through the darkest times in my life I can see the rays of hope God placed with me—answering my prayers, even if I couldn’t see it at the time.

For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me[.]” (John 16:27)

God is a mystery. There is no magic code to unlock the puzzle. There is no set prayer to bring the answers I seek. The more I study, the more I realize I don’t know, but what I am absolutely certain of is that God is Love and God loves me.

Close your eyes in prayer today and envision God’s love poured out over you. How does it feel? Grab your journal and describe the scene.

Sarah Stanley is a small town Ohio girl who is mildly obsessed with all things Ignatian and is very passionate about faith, social justice, and the intersection of the two. She recently earned her Master of Divinity and now serves as the Director of Christian Service at a high school in New England. When she’s not working, she enjoys contagious laughter, travel, clever puns, and finding the good in all things. You can find out more about her here.

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