I just returned from making my annual Ignatian silent retreat. Every year it is a time to go apart for a week of quiet solitude with the Lord to hear more clearly what He wants to say to me.
This year my retreat happened to coincide with the boys’ soccer team and their coach getting trapped in the cave in Thailand. Since oxygen levels were dropping and heavy rains predicted, the rescuers made the decision to attempt the dramatic and daring plan they had devised; and the day I started my retreat, four of the boys had just been freed from the cave.
Reading the news reports before I entered into silence, the vivid image of the flooded cave and what was needed to save the boys stayed in my mind as I embarked on my meditations. Two highly skilled divers were to accompany each boy, the lead diver carrying the boy’s oxygen tank. Some of the boys didn’t even know how to swim, and they had to be quickly taught how to use the diving gear provided. Tethered to the lead diver and followed closely behind by the second, the boys made this treacherous journey to safety.
As I prayed with those images, I realized that I was like the trapped boys. I can’t rescue myself. I need a Savior.
I remember reading an article* that a priest from Madonna House, Fr. Bob Wild, wrote. He said, “When I am giving spiritual direction and someone is struggling with some problem or pain, I often ask the person, ‘Have you asked God for the grace to help you with this?’ Very often the answer is ‘not really,’ or ‘not very much.'”
He continued, “Often we think we can change ourselves by using will power. The saints knew that doesn’t work. They knew that we are not able to change our own hearts or heal ourselves. They knew that only God can do these things.”
The young boys and their coach in Thailand could not get out of that cave without help. They were completely stuck and cut off from the outside world and would have perished if it hadn’t been for this outpouring of help from experienced people coming to their rescue. And the world was gripped by this moving drama as it played out.
We Need God
With all the emphasis today on self-help materials and the way that self-reliance is touted as a key virtue, it is easy for us to forget that we really do need a Savior. We can’t make it on our own. In the big crises and trials, but also in the little challenges we come up against in daily life.
“The Lord is my shepherd,” Psalm 23 reminds us. “I shall lack nothing.” The Good Shepherd wants to take care of His sheep, wants to provide, delights in providing, has no trouble providing what we need. But we need to ask. We need to acknowledge our need and ask for God’s help.
Whether you are in a good and peaceful space, or in the midst of pain and tribulation, practice turning to God with a simple, heartfelt prayer: “Jesus, I need You. Jesus, I trust in You. Come and rescue me. Amen.”
And then watch what the Lord will do.