It’s all fine to recall those moments for which we are most grateful and treasure them in our hearts. But what about the events in our day for which we are least grateful? Who wants to treasure those? I’d just as soon forget them.
But Ignatius of Loyola believed uncomfortable moments contain treasures too. Experiences of desolation are included in our Daily Examen, because God is there. Psalm 23:4 says,
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
It’s easy to imagine God with us when life is free and easy. But the psalmist tells us that when we go through hard times, God has not abandoned us.
Father Richard Soo, a Jesuit priest, says that we often feel like we go through dark valleys alone. However, as we return to those places with Jesus in the Prayer of Examen, we will see how God was with us. What’s more, when we linger there with Jesus, we can receive the comfort and protection God promised.
In the post Sweet Freedom, I described how I went through a dark valley after preaching one Sunday. The next morning, as I returned to that desolation with Jesus, I saw things a different way. I appreciated the new insight, but it was the compassionate way Jesus was with me in both darkness and light that deepened my love for him.
Under every desolation is a consolation. That is what we discover as we pray the second part of the Daily Examen. Here’s how it’s done. After you have enjoyed revisiting a grateful moment with Jesus, take another five minutes and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the moment in your day for which you were least grateful. Picture yourself with Jesus and relive that experience with the One who is kind and gentle of heart. What do you notice as you are with him? What is Jesus feeling?
If you imagine yourself being cornered by a finger-pointing frustrated guy in a beard and a robe, that’s not Jesus. It’s someone in your past pretending to be him.
Jesus–the real Jesus–looks at us and loves us. He knows we are standing on buried treasure and he will help us find it.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
– Luke 2:19
like magnificent gems emerging from the guck of mire…
Yes. Isn’t God amazing?