Sometimes life is a war zone. So many things disturb our peace. The kids act defiantly. An important contract falls through at work. Our finances are in trouble. The phone rings during a serious conversation. These are all surface battles. The real war we fight is the war against ourselves.
God created man in love and goodness. Adam and Eve sinned. Evil entered their hearts. Where once it had been easy to do God’s will, it became a struggle. They passed this struggle down to us, their children.
I want to do good, but I don’t
St. Paul wrote, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members” (Romans 7:15, 21-22). Haven’t we all experienced this?
We start the day with a prayer for grace and resolutions to do God’s will. Then temptation hits us, and we give in to the sin that we promised God we would resist. We know we do not really want to be sinful. We know that disobeying God cannot make us happy. And yet, we give in, because we are weak, or tired, or—for a moment—indifferent to the consequences.
The exterior battles are difficult. They wear us out. But if we could win the battle within, the battle against our baser selves, we could maintain peace in our heart in every situation. How can we find this peace?
God fights with us
The first step is to remember that God is in control, even in our interior struggles. God knew that Adam and Eve would sin. He knew we would have to fight against the consequences of Original Sin, the concupiscence that tempts us. When a battle rages within us, we do not fight alone. God fights on the side of good.
God guides our hand in the battle, but he does not force it. He gave us free will and He respects our freedom. He quietly offers us the grace to conquer sin. We must choose to accept that grace. We must invite Jesus to conquer sin in us.
Sometimes, we will be too weak to do this. Sometimes we will fail. Failure is part of being human after the fall. We cannot avoid it. We should not be surprised or dismayed by it. Failure does not surprise or dismay God.
Humility wins every battle
Whatever the outcome of our initial struggle, we can still triumph in the end. When we sin, we can simply say, “Jesus, I’m sorry. I sinned. Please forgive me, and give me the grace to resist temptation next time.” We don’t need to anguish over our sins. When we calmly accept God’s forgiveness, we grow in humility and trust.
We can grow closer to God by accepting his grace in the midst of the battle and resisting the temptation to sin. And we can also grow closer to God by accepting his grace and forgiveness after we lose the battle, resisting the temptation to despair. No matter how many individual battles we lose, we can still win the war. Weak and sinful people that we are, we can still become holy. Nothing can stop the progress of grace in our lives except our refusal to embrace it.
Share with us: Are you fighting a battle that you can’t seem to win? Can you tell us about past triumphs?