It can be tempting to give into worry and fear regarding all that is happening in the world, the Church, and especially, what we’re going through on a personal level.

What is your present trial? Are you struggling with a job? Are you grieving the loss of a loved one? Do you have financial burdens?

Whatever you’re struggling with, the chances are that you resent it, just like most of us do when something presents hardship or grief.

But, in his book “Trusting God in the Present,” Father Jacques Philippe, invites the reader, to have a different perspective of times of trial and hardship. This beloved priest and spiritual father to many, invites you to consider times of difficulty as times of grace. How so? These not so easy days, he explains, can push you to make a stronger commitment to God. And, if you’re a devotee of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux’s, you’ll be happy to know that Father Philippe references her life throughout.  

Father Philippe refers to this booklet as a spiritual direction manual to trusting God in the midst of difficult times. And, I couldn’t agree more. 

Divided into five chapters, “Trusting God in the Present,” will accompany you towards a greater trust in God. Father Philippe invites you to write in the margins, and reflect on the questions he poses in the book. And if you’re reading a digital version, I invite you to take notes in your journal.

God is Our Only Hope 

In Chapter One, you will be reminded just how much you are not in control of anything. This is difficult especially when it involves seeing loved ones go through pain and suffering and there’s nothing you can do about it. However, Father Philippe explains that even though you can’t do anything externally, you still have the inner freedom to believe, hope, and love. 

You can believe that God will intervene. You can lean into the hope that God’s faithfulness offers. And, you can love by forgiving and praying for others. God is always present and he is always inviting you to a deeper love, which is what Father Philippe explains is “…participation in the being and life of God.”

Choosing God in Trials 

In Chapter Two, Father Philippe dives into what all of us try to avoid: trials, crises, and material securities being taken from us. These experiences can make it hard to trust God, but that’s exactly what these difficult times are meant to do. 

Father Philippe explains that every trial you experience is a trial of faith, hope, or love. He suggests that trials of faith invite you to a deeper and more mature adult faith. It is an opportunity to see the positive and to decide to have faith. 

Trials of hope invite you to be honest about who or what you rely on. Is God your security? Or is it your health, education, friends, and/or your own strength that gives you security? Father Philippe explains that by, “Finding ourselves poorer, we see more clearly the limitations of our human confidence.” Trials of hope point you to finding security more fully in God. 

Trials of love concern your love for God, yourself, and your love for others. These trials are intended to purify and deepen your love. Father Philippe uses the example of prayer. He approaches the trial of not wanting to pray. He asks: “What does that trial mean? It is a call to continue praying all the same, because we don’t pray just because we enjoy it or experience satisfaction but, first and foremost, to please God.” 

Moving Positively Through Trials

In Chapter Three, Father Philippe will take you deeper into the topic of trials. Depending where you’re at in your spiritual life, it may be difficult to receive, but Father begins by explaining that no matter the trial, God is in fact present with you.

Enveloped by this intimacy with God, Father Phillipe encourages you to move forward in your trial, and to receive what God intends. To do so, he explains that you actually have to accept the trail. (And, by knowing God is with you, I hope this provides you the necessary courage to not be afraid to give a confident, “Yes”.)

It can be tempting to blame others for your difficulties, and/or try to make sense of your hardships. Father Philippe reminds you in Chapter Three that not everything in life can be explained. And eventually in your questioning, and maybe even blaming, you need to shift how you’re approaching what you’re going through. This involves adopting an attitude of responsibility and asking life-giving questions like: “What attitude does God want me to have toward this situation?” and “How am I called to live through these things?” You apply these questions and the answers to the present, not necessarily to the long term. When you think about your trials beyond the here and now, Father Phillipe says, can create chaos. So practically speaking, look at today, and not fifty years from now. But at the same time, accept that a trial can take years to move through. 

God Has a Call for You

In Chapter Four, Father Phillipe invites you to be open to working on yourself. This will involve working towards an openness to understanding what God is asking of you through your own specific trial.

This includes prayer, reflection, and asking God: “What act of faith am I being called to make, what attitude of trust am I being called to adopt, what conversion to love am I being called to undertake?” The call is to approach your trial in trust, faith, and love.

The path of trust, faith, and love is demanding, but it is full of joy. Father Phillipe explains, it requires responsibility and an adult faith to pursue this path.

Forgiveness is Necessary 

I was personally grateful to find that in Chapter Five, Father Philippe, provides guidance on how to approach the trials of every day life, right in our homes. I encourage extra reflection on this chapter because it is in our homes that many of our trials are experienced.

The primary message of Chapter Five, is that to give a courageous, “Yes,” to our trials happening in our family life, we must first forgive.

Forgiveness is a grace, so Father Philippe, reminds us that we must ask for the grace to forgive. This takes humility and prayer.

Father Philippe teaches that forgiveness is an act of faith and hope. You need to have faith that our wounds and the wounds of others will be healed. You need to have hope that you and the person you extend forgiveness to will change for the good. Christ will transform your heart and the hearts of your loved ones.

Forgiveness sets you free, and makes you available to be who God desires you to be. It will also move you forward in whatever season you find yourself.

How will You Approach Your Trial?

So, how is God inviting you to trust him in your present trial? 

I invite you to pick up Father Phillipe’s guide to read his reflections in full, and explore this question of invitation and trust.

So what are my credentials?

At the core of my being, I want you to have joy, a relationship with God and his Church, and you to know your incredible worth. I am passionate about your journey, and you embracing every season of life. You’ll learn quickly that I enjoy every moment of prayer and conversation that aids my spiritual directees in living a full life as a daughter of God in the here and now!

Your Catholic virtual spiritual director!

I’m Amanda Zurface.