When I think of trust, I am reminded of a friend who was recently invited to teach. “I don’t know anything about the Faith.,” she worried. “I wasn’t taught it, how can I teach it.” Yet, she reached past this concern and trusted God with the task He was requiring of her. I saw her own faith catch fire as she struggled to understand what she would now teach. She studied, listened, and prayed for the wisdom to impart the faith to the little children entrusted to her care.
I was humbled as I watched this process. She was like a little child herself, eagerly reaching out and soaking up what she could learn. I began to understand why the Lord instructs us to “be as children.” She trusted the Lord with this process, just as a child trusts a parent to guide them in new situations.
Relying on God in difficult times can be a struggle. To find that trust and fall into it completely, as a young child, can challenge us to the core. The question may come into our minds, how can we teach trust if we, ourselves, have difficulty with the idea?
One way to learn trust is to take risks of faith. It may be frightening to teach a religion class. It may be counter-culture to practice Natural Family Planning. It may even be financially risky to live your Catholic values at work, but we cannot learn that we will be caught, unless we learn to leap.
A positive way to demonstrate this concept to our students is by playing the game of trust. One person falls backward with her eyes closed and another person catches her. Then the analogy between taking the risk and trusting God to catch us can be made.
Younger children may like the story of the potter and the clay. The potter stretches the clay, pulls the clay then, finally, fires the clay. The clay does not think it can survive such things, but ultimately, the potter creates a beautiful strong pot out of the soft, weak clay.
Another way to express trusting God in difficult times is to work on the spiritual muscles when we are not being tested. Young people understand the need to exercise to strengthen their muscles. To do that they use tools: playgrounds, jump ropes, and weights (if old enough). When their muscles are needed to climb stairs or lift something they will be strong because of the exercise. Spiritual muscles need strengthening too! Tools such as Reconciliation, Eucharist, prayer and fasting make us strong in our faith. When we then need to trust God, we find we have the spiritual strength to do so.
Shared prayer also gives us the strength to get through difficult times. How many times do we as adults say, “I’ll pray for you,” when someone shares a trying ordeal? Teaching our students to rely on each other and the Communion of Saints can give them the ability to rely on God when they are struggling. It is comforting to know that we are never alone, no matter how lonely we may feel.
Offer it up. Difficult times are always made easier by tying our troubles to the cross. Teaching our students to recognize Christ’s gift to us, of salvation through His own suffering, helps us to bear our own difficulties with grace.
As Catechists we must remember that our primary goal is to help our students get closer to heaven. True trust in God is an important step along that journey.
--Mary Lou Rosien struggles to increase her trust in God daily as she and her husband raise their seven children in North Chili, NY. She is the author of Managing Stress with the Help of Your Catholic Faith (OSV Publishing, 2006).
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