When God created mankind, He gave us five senses. Our senses help us to understand and interact with the physical world around us. Being made in God’s image and likeness, we are not merely material beings. We also have a soul, a spiritual reality. What amazes me is how God continues to use my own understanding of the world around me to help me comprehend deeper spiritual realities.
For instance, a couple of years ago I was going through a difficult season. I remember standing in the shower, crying, asking God why He wouldn’t just send me the grace to help me fix the problem. Instantly, a memory of Ireland from my college semester abroad flooded my consciousness.
What God Can Do with Rain
I thought about the week I spent exploring the Emerald Isle. It was cold. Everything was wet. It was cloudy and windy and it rained every single day. Some days it would sprinkle off and on, some days it would be misty, and somedays the rain poured steadily.
However, when the rain stopped, the clouds split, and the sun came out… the beauty of Ireland was magnificent. The grass was so green and the colors of the flowers were so vibrant that they took my breath away.
God reminded me what He could do with “rain.” He takes things that are unpleasant to the senses and transforms them into things so splendid that one’s senses are overwhelmed with wonder, awe, and gratitude. He never, ever, leaves us in the rain forever.
God Uses Rain to Make Things Beautiful
Can you imagine how infuriating this must be for Satan? God takes what the devil meant for evil and uses it to bring about good. I mean, look at what we are celebrating as a Church right now! Death came about because of sin. Satan intended for it to be what would keep us from God forever. Instead, Christ came, died, and rose from the dead, forever transforming what Satan has intended to be a tool for mankind’s demise.
Now, because of God, death can lead to resurrection, which means life’s spiritual struggles can lead to our greatest joys! Just as “April showers bring May flowers,” God can transform the ugliest times of our lives into the most beautiful of creations. He uses those things to “water” us and help us grow, making us into someone that others find breathtaking.
Unfortunately, this does not happen at the drop of a hat. I always want my spiritual woes to go away as quickly as my physical aches and pains are relieved by a tablet of aspirin.
The thing is, aspirin treats a symptom, not the source of my ailment. God doesn’t want to give me temporary relief… He wants to heal me. True healing takes time. Ask anyone recovering from surgery. God also wants me to grow. It takes the human body almost two decades to reach peak maturity. Why do I think my spiritual growth should happen any faster?
Spiritual Showers Bring Spiritual Flowers
The rains of spring always remind me of this truth, and this year is no different. Though I know all these truths, the struggle can still be somewhat depressing. Thus, I try to face my spiritual “rains” the same way I deal with nasty weather.
1. Wear Boots and a Rain Jacket
My rain jacket gets the majority of its use during spring. I carry it with me daily. If it’s raining when I wake up, I leave for work in my rainboots. I do what I can to protect myself from the negative effects of rain. Being prepared and putting on my waterproof gear reminds me of some advice from St. Paul:
Put on the whole armor of God… that you may be able to withstand in the evil day… (Ephesians 6: 11, 13)
He even outlines what the “armor of God” is: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, the Holy Spirit, and prayer. These things prepare us to face the enemy. While St. Paul calls it “armor,” I call it “rain gear.” If I’m going through a stormy season of life, I cling to my “rain gear.” I focus on these virtues and graces when I wake up in the morning, hoping they stay fresh in my mind all day.
2. Grab an Umbrella
Similar to the rain gear mentioned above, an umbrella can be used to help us stay warm and dry during a rainstorm. Though it doesn’t protect us from all the rain, it certainly protects us from a good chunk of it.
In the same way, the Blessed Mother is my spiritual umbrella. There are many Marian prayers within our faith tradition which humbly request the Heavenly Queen to reach down and wrap us within her mantle (her outer garment, the ancient equivalent of a coat).
I love this image of a Mother wrapping her child within her own garment, keeping the child warm, safe, and comforted. As my spiritual umbrella, my Heavenly Mother does the same thing. This image helps my soul when it is aching.
3. Drink a Warm Beverage
On those brisk spring days when the wind nips, I always rely on a warm beverage to warm my belly and my bloodstream. When I can’t handle the chill of a spiritual storm, I also seek out something warm to consume.
I actually meditate on Jesus’ words from the Cross: “I thirst” (John 19:28). He was thirsting for redemption, thirsting for love. I can relate.
Often, I grab a literal warm beverage and read through Psalm 22, the one Christ proclaimed from the Cross. He felt abandoned. He felt alone. However, He knew that He wasn’t, and that psalm (which ends in redemption and glory) was an act of faith. In the midst of my spiritual storms, I use it the same way, reminding myself that my struggles will also have a glorious end.
4. Stay Home
Sometimes, the storm is really, really bad, and you have to stay home. Sometimes, we are spiritually beat, and we feel as though we have nothing left to give. In those cases, remember that it is okay to rest and/or indulge.
St. Thomas Aquinas once said:
Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath, and a glass of wine.
He understood that humans are both material and spiritual, and that the state of one part of us often affects the other. When you are going through spiritual storms, do not forget to take care of yourself physically! Sometimes this means getting exercise, sometimes it means taking a nap. This does not make you weak… it makes you human.
5. Remember the Sun
Just because it’s cloudy and raining outside does not mean that the sun has stopped shining. The sun is always shining, even when we can’t see it because the clouds are in the way.
In your own spiritual difficulty, remember that the Son is still “shining.” He never stops pouring out His grace into your life. The “clouds” might make it harder to perceive, but God is never not there, and you will “feel” His presence once again, just as the sun returns after the rain.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress;
he made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad because they had quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven. (Psalm 107:28-30)
How do you cope during times of spiritual difficulties?
Written by Grace Bellon, lover of bearded men, rich coffee, cheesy puns, cuddly doggies, and Catholicism. You can find out more about her here (warned ya she liked cheesy puns).