There is so much we can learn from Saint Thérèse. The greatest lesson she taught me was to have confidence in God. Thérèse wrote: “What offends Jesus, what wounds Him to the Heart, is want of confidence.” (Letter to her cousin Marie Guerin). As a perfectionist, I like being in control, (or at least the idea of being in control). It is easy to forget that even at our strongest, we are still weak and that without God we can do nothing.
Thérèse had a bold and daring confidence in God. She once likened Jesus to a “lift” (elevator) in that she wouldn’t have to struggle climbing steep flights of stairs toward Heaven. This was beyond her abilities, so she would simply allow Jesus to embrace her in her frailty and littleness and lift her to Heaven.
She also expressed her confidence in God’s unfailing love and mercy toward His repentant children when she wrote: “Suppose the father of two wayward and disobedient children, coming to punish them, sees one sees one tremble and draw away from him in terror; while, the other, on the contrary, throwing himself into his arms, saying he is sorry, promises to be good henceforth, and begs for a kiss as punishment. Do you think the delighted father will withstand the filial confidence of this child? …he is disposed to pardon him always, if always there be an appeal to his heart.” (VIII Letter to her Missionary Brothers) Yes, her confidence and trust in Jesus was daring indeed!
Some years ago, I found myself mired in several difficulties all at the same time. My efforts to resolve things were frustrated at every turn, serving only to increase my frustration. It finally occurred to me to follow Thérèse’s suggestions and hand the problems, lock, stock and barrel, over to Jesus to sort out. I decided to trust that He would do precisely that. While some of the outcomes were not quite what I had in mind, ultimately, the resolutions were far better than I anything I ever could have dreamt up. God is good.
So let’s keep Thérèse’s example in mind. When problems seem to overwhelm, place those problems in Jesus’s hand through prayer. When we stumble and sin, let’s seek the loving kiss as punishment in the Confessional. Let us pray for the grace to be more confident and trusting in God. He won’t refuse you and He won’t disappoint you.