Do Not Despair

Member Musing by Robin Shipley, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Diocese of St. Augustine

It is easy to fall into despair these days, especially after listening to the news or scrolling through social media. We are all faced with the burden of a pandemic, the sin of racism, political tension, and division as to how to cope. We also have our own personal woes that may even feel a bit heavier and even overwhelming. None of us were prepared for what 2020 would bring. We cannot downplay, in anyway, the enormity of pain and suffering in the world. It is really beyond words. Some of us have asked why God has allowed this. That is normal and natural. The psalmist cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

We have experienced online liturgies, spiritual communion, sequestered learning, rescheduled graduations, drive by celebrations, cancelled sporting events, virtual youth ministry, and become Zoom experts. If you have started to engage in gathered youth ministry, it looks much different and it feels strange to require masks, social distancing, temperature checks, and health screenings. The Good News is that God continues to dwell among us. He never leaves us alone. In fact, He is using our current circumstances to inspire us to follow the Spirit and re-imagine our lives and how we minister. There are beautiful lessons in all this that are meant to draw us closer to Him. Much fruit will be born out of this and in the way we do ministry. I have faith that the Holy Spirit has great plans for our work to continue.

The current circumstances have allowed all of us time to personally reflect on our interior, immerse in the Word, and pray more. Perhaps blind spots are being exposed, preferences are being tested, and patterns of behavior are being reexamined. Through our prayer life, we have been given strength from God to bear these trials and tribulations. It is a gift to be able to take a self- inventory and preach the gospel of grace to ourselves so that we can be better equipped to serve others well.

“People who have hope live differently.”

As we accompany one another through this, it is essential to encourage one another, share our joys, and give the gift of hope. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI revealed to us that “People who have hope live differently.” I do my best to equip myself with the hope that is Christ each day and through every hardship I encounter. I do this knowing He gives the faithful the strength to go through anything. In His love letter to all of us, the scriptures, we are promised that we will know His peace, comfort, and healing if we only look for it.

It is important to be okay with doing things differently, remain positive, rest in our faith, and shine our light on the people we encounter. It is important to ask ourselves, are we doing that well? We truly can do this and face the present circumstances, recognizing that God has His own plans and God does not lose battles. We need to take the step of faith, to have the courage to dream, and dare to answer the call of God in our hearts.

Do not despair.
Do not give up.
Let us be saints.

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