We have all heard the expression “making lemonade out of lemons” as an illustration of positive thinking. Certainly, we need such thinking in this world given the overwhelming assaults from all sides on our psyche, emotions, and, in full order, our faith. The devil is a cunning, shrewd, and highly intelligent foe, and one of his most powerful weapons is negativity. We play into his hands when we despair, lose hope, surrender, or simply decide that there is no hope for us. In such a state, we are more likely to fall into a self-fulfilling paradox of sorts whereby we will simply sin because, on some subconscious level, we wonder what difference it will make if we add a few grains of sand to our desert of sinfulness.
While there are many things to discuss with regard to the role of positive thinking in faith, let us confine ourselves here to one simple point, which is that Christ’s Divine Mercy and God’s love for us provide us with the ultimate lemonade in a sea of lemons. This reality presents us with three different perspectives which each give us new insight into the power of Divine Mercy and the need of us to embrace that Mercy.
First, we cannot deny that, without such Divine Mercy, we would already be doomed and lost and then, yes, what difference would it make if we sinned yet again for, in truth, we would already be damned by now. Second, that very Divine Mercy is precisely what makes getting up and trying again so wonderful, and so constructive. If, no matter how badly we have strayed, we know that we will start fresh if we are sorry, confess our sins, and try again, then there is always hope, always the chance to save ourselves and, consequently, always a reason to limit or flee from further sin.
The third and most important aspect of all of this, however, is the actual value of our own sinfulness and weakness. Many of us might be tempted to wish that we would never sin, fall, or drop the ball with regard to our relationship with God. Certainly, many of us may reason, such a state would make our lives and our job of saving our souls so much easier, and perhaps that is true on some level. However, I suggest that you consider which student appreciates passing a major exam more: the one who passes it easily with flying colors the first time or, in the contrary, the one who has repeatedly failed that test and finally gets over the top. Certainly, we know that those who have struggled usually appreciate victory more than those to whom victory comes as easily as breathing.
On an even deeper level, our falls enable our rising; our fumbles enable our recovery; and our sin enables The Almighty to show us His Divine Mercy and forgiveness. Many folks spend most of their time trying not to sin when, in fact, they should be spending most of that time loving The Almighty with such relentless audacity that sin is trampled as merely a very temporary obstacle on the way to loving God forever in paradise. This is not to minimize the power or danger of sin but, rather, to maximize the power and importance of Divine Mercy. At the end of the day, we have to love God so much that no sin has the power to make us surrender our drive to love Him forever. We need to stop trying to be perfect and start accepting and embracing our imperfection, asking for forgiveness for that imperfection which offends God, and then continually and relentlessly go about the business of saving our souls and that of others as well.
We must realize that, for all of its destructive power, sin is what enables us to truly appreciate God’s Mercy and Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. One cannot truly see the light until one has dwelt in the darkness. The irony here is that we cannot fully defeat sin until we embrace it as the contrast that enables us to seek sanctity. Some of our greatest saints were also some of our greatest sinners. Peter denied Christ three times before he became the rock. St. Francis was apparently no stranger to great sin before he rose to spiritual greatness. Christ came to heal the sick, and we cannot experience His healing power until we admit and accept that we are as sick as it gets and move on. So the next time you slip up, as we all do all too often, love your God with such relentless zeal and determination that your fall will be but a very minor and temporary obstruction on your path to eternal salvation for, if that love is true, it will be much easier to admit your sin, ask for forgiveness from it, and move on.
2014, Gabriel Garnica