I'll start with a confession. I wasn't going to go to Mass today. It was pouring with rain, I'd rebuilt the kids' 'tent' (a blanket stretched between 2 sofas) about 5 times. I hadn't slept particularly well. The kids' car seats weren't in the car, and I'd let my husband sleep in. Frankly, it all seemed a bit much. But, my husband offered to watch the twins while I went to Mass alone, and then went to run some errands. Since I just had enough time to make it to Mass, I went.
I'm so, so glad I did. Our parish has been without a priest since the sudden death in May of Fr Jim, the much-loved parish Priest. Today, it was the new Bishop of the diocese who said the Mass. The gospel was the feeding of the five thousand, one of my favourites. The homily delighted and revived me. The Bishop didn't do the usual 'everyone was fed, what a miracle!' approach to this gospel, he concentrated on how Jesus might have felt. He reminded us of the context - that Jesus had just learnt of the death of John the Baptist. He reminded us that Jesus was shocked, and grieving, and had originally went off in an attempt to be alone, and pray, and mourn his loved one. Jesus was struggling, but the people needed him. They needed healing, and teaching, and they needed feeding, and despite his own struggles, Jesus gave them what they needed.
As the Bishop pointed out, God knows our struggles. He is with us in our struggles, and he gives us the strength to do what we need to, whether its a little or a lot. He reminded us that God says, 'I know you struggle sometimes, and I know sometimes you feel overwhelmed, and that everything is getting on top of you.'
But most of the time, you're doing ok. Most of the time, you're doing good.
In the midst of our troubles, and our insecurity, and from the distorted, flawed viewpoint of our humanity, its hard to remember that God is with us in our struggles. We tend to want to see God as a benevolent fairy, who will click his fingers, and magic our troubles away. But that's not what God's grace is. It's knowing that God is with you in the midst of your struggles that he understands, and is patient with us. That he is working in us - even if we don't feel it. And it's understanding that God knows we're not perfect, and he knows we struggle, but that he smiles on us, and walks beside us, and says 'I know its hard sometimes, but mostly, you're doing ok.'