Life is not always easy – in fact, it is often very difficult. Similarly, our spiritual life is not always an easy experience. In some ways, this is as it should be – after all, our faith should (sometimes, at least) challenge us and ask us to look carefully at ourselves. Our faith should cost us something if it is to be worthwhile at the existential and the personal levels. Further, we tend to take a little more care of those things which we have paid dearly for – what comes easily, goes equally easily.
We have a very good example of the cost of faith – Christ the Lord.
He warned us several times that faith would cost us, that we would be asked to pick up our crosses if we wish to follow Him; He also reminded us that to get to Easter Sunday, we must first pass through Good Friday. The two go together and cannot be separated.
We also have the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The joy of the moment of the Annunciation would later be followed by standing silently at the roadside as Her Son passed by, His Cross upon His shoulder.
Life is often capable of producing a sense of distress within us. Again, we have the example of the Lord – this time in the garden of Gethsemane. There, His distress was sufficient that it produced a sweat of blood and it made Him proclaim that “My soul is sorrowful to the point of death” (cf. Mk.14:34). The Gospels also give us the response of the Lord to this moment – “In His anguish, He prayed even more earnestly” (cf. Lk.22:44).
Prayer, then, should be our immediate response in all moments – and especially at the darkest and most difficult moments of life and of faith. Prayer provides us with the compass we need in those moments, giving us direction and purpose, but also giving us that deeper interior peace even in the midst of difficulty.