The gift of vexation…

2 Corinthians 11:24-28 (The trials of St. Paul) Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches.

One only has to read the trials of St. Paul to put their own trials into perspective. It seems that lately I am beset, not so much by trials, although there have been some of those, but it is the day-to-day vexations that are getting under my skin. For instance, our house is for sale* and the market is rather stagnant here, so there is the elation/disappointment roller-coaster I ride every time we have a showing. There are the vexations of waiting for a showing, of waiting to move, and waiting for someone else to move.

And there is the vexation that comes in my dealings with others, when I fail to act as I should or when my expectations fail to materialize. I once heard about a person complaining to another about someone who was always pushing their buttons. The wise reply was, “Well, what are you doing with buttons?” Touché. As someone who is trying to live in God’s will, sometimes all I can see is how far I am from it.

Vexations come and go throughout life. The trick is in maintaining the peace of heart that is a free gift from God in all circumstances. This past Easter a dear friend gave me a book by St. Alphonsus de Liguori called, “Uniformity with God’s Will”. St. Alphonsus writes:

“The instances of jangling irritation that are bound to arise will not fail to make surface impact on the senses. This however will be experienced only in the inferior part of the soul; in the superior part will reign peace and tranquillity as long as our will remains united with God’s.”

Living in uniformity with God’s will is very easy to learn and not so easy to put into practice. We had a long winter where I live, and I know many others had the same problem. Everywhere I went, there were complaints about the weather, sometimes coming from me! I finally decided to try something different. Whenever I felt like complaining, or whenever someone else complained about the weather—I started quoting from the book of Daniel, Chapter 3: “Ice and snow, bless the Lord, frost and chill, bless the Lord. Praise and exalt Him above all forever!” What I found is that blessing God through the vexation brought a smile to their face and to mine. Some even laughed out loud! I had not defeated the weather, but I had defeated the vexation of it!

Vexations will always be with us. I think God sends them as an opportunity for us to build the spiritual muscle that will get us through major trials. If we see vexations as a gift from God, we mitigate the harm and ensure that the surface vexation does not deal a serious injury to our interior peace.

The following, from Daniel, Chapter 3, is an excerpt from the prayer of the three youth in the fiery furnace, that got them out of that inferno completely unharmed. The passage is prayed on Sundays and Solemnities in the Liturgy of the Hours. It’s an easy one to imitate, even on car trips as the scenery passes by. Praying this way can be an antidote to vexation, or a vaccine against it. May the glory it gives to God send a dew-laden breeze into the fiery furnace of our next vexation.

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord;

Praise and exalt him above all forever.

Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord;

You heavens, bless the Lord;

All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord.

All you hosts of the Lord; bless the Lord.

Sun and moon, bless the Lord;

Stars of heaven, bless the Lord.

Every shower and dew, bless the Lord;

All you winds, bless the Lord.

Fire and heat, bless the Lord;

Cold and chill, bless the Lord.

Dew and rain, bless the Lord;

Frost and cold, bless the Lord.

Ice and snow, bless the Lord;

Nights and days, bless the Lord.

Light and darkness bless the Lord;

Lightning and clouds, bless the Lord.

Let the earth bless the Lord;

Praise and exalt him above all forever.

Mountains and hills, bless the Lord

Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord.

You springs, bless the Lord;

Seas and rivers, bless the Lord.

You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord;

All you birds of the air, bless the Lord.

All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord;

Praise and exalt him above all forever.

You sons of men, bless the Lord;

O Israel, bless the Lord.

Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord;

Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord.

Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord;

Holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord.

Ananias, Azarias, Misael, bless the Lord;

Praise and exalt him above all forever.

Let us bless the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost;

Let us praise and exalt God above all forever.

Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven;

Praiseworthy and glorious forever.

(*Bless the Lord with me, my house sold recently! This article was written in early May.)


6 responses

  1. Janet,
    My goodness, your writing hit bullseye for me. Feel like i am losing ‘it’. I have come across words in several places that, in effect, remind me that God rejoices in our sincere praise and thanksgiving. I “know” this but my heart seems to forget, so, thanks for the shot in the ‘heart’.
    [fatigue and fatness, bless the Lord; praise and exalt Him above forever.]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I reread this post today, this comment struck me: “As someone who is trying to live in God’s will, sometimes all I can see is how far I am from it.” Courage dear Janet, you are in great company. St Therese said similar things. [me,too, by the way, with these feelings]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. God bless and take care of you Janet as you soldier on fighting the good fight.

    All the trials and tribulations and vexations and joys in life will come as part and parcel of our earthly journey; but Jesus sanctified every trial by His own perfect offering on our behalf. All we have to do is offer our daily joys and sorrows to Jesus through Mary and He will do the rest.

    Imagine, we have the free choice to sanctify our lives with all their joys and sorrows by simply offering them to God in our morning offering.

    Let’s not forget to invest in this awesome Heavenly treasure. Praised be Jesus and Mary.

    Liked by 3 people

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