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Seeking answers in the midst of change

Joyful Witness
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By Fr. Erik Esparza

 Change is something we all experience and transitions will always be a part of our lives. Through the experience of change and the transitions that come from it, a mixture of emotions will arise within us. At times change can be easy to embrace. In fact, we may even invite it or look forward to it.

Yet, even for those who welcome change, there can also be anxiety and fear. Mainly the fear of change arises from not knowing for sure what will come next. We are in many ways creatures of habit. We like to be comfortable. We enjoy having the answers. We expect to know what is coming around the corner. Therefore, when change occurs it can leave us feeling uncomfortable, lost and fearful. 

 So while there may be excitement at a wonderful new opportunity, there still remains the unanswered questions and the challenges that await us. I imagine this mixture of emotion, both the excitement and fear, is shared by many of us. For example, the newly wed couple, the 18-year-old college bound student, the father beginning a new job and the family moving to a new city. 

 There is this excitement that life will be something new, yet the fear of not fully knowing what it will be. When a transition forces us to confront this reality, questions arise within us. Will things work out? Will I be okay? How will life be different? Certainly these experiences of change cannot be compared with the grieving parents, the cancer stricken mother or the divorced or widowed spouse. These transitions don’t provide much excitement or any joy. Yet, at the same time, similar questions do arise. Will things work out? Will I be okay? How will life be different?

 In a world where we expect quick answers to many of life’s questions, usually in the form of a quick Google search, facing transitions where there is no quick or easy answer can leave us feeling frustrated. Why can’t we just know what will happen next? Why don’t we just hear God’s voice speak in a crystal clear voice such as a parent saying to the child, “it will all be okay!”

 So what do we do when life’s questions are not quickly answered? It is necessary to turn to God’s revelation and God’s promise. We must turn to the Word of God. In Psalm 37:5 we are told, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust that God will act.” And in Isaiah 30:15 we hear, “For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: by waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies” and in Hebrews 6:15, “And so, after patient waiting, he obtained the promise.” You see, God does speak to us. God does tell us it will be okay! Perhaps not always with the straight lines we draw for ourselves, but after all we must remember, God says in Isaiah 42:16, “I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight. These things I do for them, and I will not forsake them.”

 And so as Scripture reminds us, no matter where we may be or what we are going through, if we are committed to God, we trust God will act, and we are patient, God will not forsake us, rather God will show forth His promise, a promise of new life, a new beginning! Trust and be not afraid!

 Now go forth and be a joyful witness!

Fr. Erik Esparza is Associate Director of the Office of Priest Personnel in the Diocese of San Bernardino.