|Job as portrayed by Bonnat|
I, for one, know that I need grace. I need a lot of it. I know my own flaws and my own need for Divine Assistance. I also know that in order to receive more grace I have to open myself to receive it. I need to expose the dark parts of my soul to light. I need to empty out myself so that God can fill the spaces. How could I expect anything less than suffering when even Job, who was righteous, suffered greatly. I do not pretend to know God's mind, but find it difficult to presume that it will be easy.
The problem is, I have lived so many years of my life for myself that it is particularly difficult to live for anyone else: God, wife, neighbor, etc... So, little acts of self-denial always find their way into my Lenten practice. For example, if I think I should eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, maybe this time I will forego the jelly. Should I eat it with a glass of milk? I think this time I will just have water.
Does it work? I have no idea. I do not feel it working. It hurts. I do not enjoy it. I feel like it is pointless most of the time, but I have to tell myself that that sort of thinking is the exact temptation I am trying to extinguish. In all honesty, I do not succeed every time. I fail a lot. I cannot overcome many of the temptations I face in these little things. And in my failures I recognize that I really am a bad person. If I cannot avoid this small temptation, how will I ever be able to overcome the big ones?
Will I ever succeed? Does it really work? It is hard to say, but I know that I am different person than I was five years ago and for the better. That gives me comfort.
Amidst it all I have the certainty that God will not change His mind about me. I believe in an immutable God. A God who is truly perfect cannot change. If He could it would imply that what He could become He is not now, but I believe in a God who is perfection itself, lacking in nothing. Furthermore, change implies time, and I believe in an eternal God. God is not restricted to our universe, to our time. He created our universe and is not subject to it.
The same God who has given me life continues to hold me in being. The same God who gives me being expects nothing in return. So my life is a free-gift, and my God is a loving God. All I can offer in return is my love, and the sacrifice of myself, as unworthy an offering it may be.
It gives me comfort to know that God does not change, and "His anger" is my relation to Him and not His relation to me. I means that with His grace I can change. As painful as it may be, I can offer myself to Him. And though I fail time and time again, I know that His gift of grace will always be there offered to me waiting for me to cooperate.