Do you know yet how much Abba-Father cares about you? As your Perfect Father, he cries when you cry. He feels the pain that parents feel when their child suffers. He longs to give you healing.
Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people. (Jeremiah 9:1 NIV)
When my daughter, Tammy, was sixteen, she had to endure major back surgery to straighten her spine. As her parents, Ralph and I endured the waiting room with some difficulty, waiting for assurance that everything had gone well. Sometimes my mind drifted to the operating room and I imagined her lying there with her insides exposed and bleeding. Quickly I diverted my attention — it was too much!
However, this was nothing compared to how I felt during her first few days of recovery. As she suffered in the hospital bed, the morphine drip that relieved her pain was not nearly enough to make her feel good. She hurt so bad that she cried and she was very angry that Ralph and I had put her through this.
I wanted to cry with her. I wanted to hold her in my arms, but I couldn’t because the bedrails and tubes and monitors blocked me. I wanted to make her pain go away, but I was powerless.
To pull myself together, I took a little respite in the hallway. Still emotionally exhausted, I re-entered her room. When she saw me, she furiously vented her pain at me. I wanted to be strong for her and find a way to comfort her, but I couldn’t and I began to cry. So I ran from the room and sought out the hospital chaplain. I cried deeply, uncontrollably in his office. I thought I should be at Tammy’s side and felt guilty that I couldn’t be there right then.
My tears poured out from the deep well of empathy that I felt for her as her mother, which had been accumulating since the doctor first told us that she needed surgery.
When a parent suffers the pain of watching a child in pain, it’s an immersion into the loving heart of the Father. We’re experiencing a tiny portion of how our Divine Daddy feels when any of his children suffer.
Does it surprise you to picture Father God crying? All of the emotions we feel, if they are healthy and if they come from caring, if they are rooted in love, then they are also the emotions that God feels — a tiny portion of what he feels — because we were made in his image. Every time you were hurt by one of your human parents or some other authority figure, or by any other person or situation, Abba-Father cared so much that he cried the tears of a totally empathetic parent — he cried for you.
Imagine how he feels watching his children suffer the destruction that comes from their sins. He knows that they are killing their souls and are headed to an eternity without him. The pains of hell are far worse than any earthly suffering.
Tears are very fatherly. Saint Paul wrote about his tears in his letter to his spiritual children in Corinth:
For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you. (2 Corinthians 2:4 NIV).
We cry for others because we care. Abba-Father cries for us because he cares — more than we can imagine.
The tears of Abba are why he sent Jesus to us as healer and why he gave him the mission of bringing us to heaven. To accomplish this, Abba would have to watch his most Beloved Son suffer the torture of a flesh-ripping whip and an excruciatingly painful crucifixion.
When Jesus dined with his disciples at the Last Supper, the Father knew what lay ahead. How do you think he felt about it? When Jesus rose from the table and left the building to go to the place of his betrayal, how did the Father feel then? In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus cried out to him, begging to be spared the pain of the scourging and crucifixion but nonetheless willing to do whatever the Father asked of him. Jesus cried so deeply that his sweat was like drops of blood (see Luke 22:44). How did the Father feel about denying his Son the rescue that he had prayed for?
He felt what any parent would feel who has to watch their child suffer, but he felt it more deeply and more keenly than you and I ever could. I believe that Abba-Father cried throughout the ordeal. He did not cry for himself. He did not cry because of any pain that he himself felt. He cried because Jesus was in pain. And he cried because many people were going to live and die rejecting what his Son did for them.
Jesus is still in pain today. He said, “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to Me” (see Matthew 25:31-46). When others hurt you, they hurt Jesus. When we hurt others, we hurt Jesus. And the Father cries in deep parental love for Jesus and for those have been hurt and for those who inflict the pain.
The Father cries whenever we wound Jesus through our flaring tempers or prejudices or judgmentalism or injustices or selfishness or anything that inflicts suffering upon others. When we betray Jesus by hiding our faith in public, the Father cries again. And when we repent of our sins and seek reconciliation with Jesus, we delight the Father. He dances!
God, of course, is multi-dimensional, never feeling just one emotion at a time. While the hammer drove spikes into the hands and feet of Jesus, Abba-Father cried and simultaneously rejoiced that the resurrection was coming. He knew the difference that Jesus’ suffering would make in your life and mine and for everyone else who accepts this gift.
Abba’s tears can heal you
Think about the tears of Abba — especially the tears that poured from deep within his soul for you. This can heal you.
He sorrows over the wounds that were inflicted upon you. He cried when you were a child suffering from something that should never have happened. Knowing this can set you free from the misconception that he is a stoic authority figure who is doing nothing except waiting for you to get into a better mood.
For every tear that you’ve shed because of evils that others have inflicted on you, Abba-Father has shed many tears. Yes, he knows the future healing you will receive. He knows the good that will come from the bad. He knows that his Son Jesus took your wounds with him to the Cross so that you could be healed. But knowing what’s good does not stop him from feeling extremely sad when something bad happens to you.
Abba-Father wants you to pour all of your sadness into his heart. Sorrow expressed in prayer is very valuable. Our tears are like precious diamonds to him; they are not bullets that shoot our frustrations heavenward to force God to hurry up and make things better. Each tear is itself a prayer.
He will not stop every abuser, every betrayer; he will not go against their free will. We cry out, “God! You can make this stop. Why are You not stopping this?” And as bad as we feel, he feels it more. He cries for you and he suffers the pain of watching his other child make hurtful decisions. His other child is so far away from him spiritually (at least in regards to how you’ve been hurt) that he cannot hear the Father’s loving voice offer him a better life. Nor can he hear the Father’s angry voice command him to stop hurting you. Nor can he hear the Father’s invitation to find healing from the wounds that contributed to his hurtful behaviors.
What old wound in you still hurts? What disappointment in childhood did you suffer because your human father was not like God the Father? What damaged your image of God? What makes you angry about how you’ve been treated? Is there anything that this 30-day journey into the Father’s heart has not healed yet? Anything that still brings tears to your eyes when you reflect on it deeply enough?
Climb into Daddy-God’s lap and cry about it. Or visit him in any way that suits you, and let yourself cry on his shoulder. This is a prayer!
Sorrow expressed in prayer is very valuable. It’s prayer beyond words. When you surrender your anguish into the heart of the Father, your tears are very precious prayer-diamonds that he treasures. He says, “You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you. Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (see Isaiah 43:4-5).
To surrender means you’ve quit trying to change what you cannot change. You might still wish you could, but you’re giving God clearance to move in and comfort you no matter what does and does not happen.
Abba’s peace can heal you
Surrendering is usually not easy. But the sooner we realize that we cannot change the person or the situation that’s causing us to suffer, the sooner we can let go of it and receive healing. I once had a good friend of many years who suddenly was no longer a friend upon whom I could rely. We used to have wonderful conversations about living the faith. We had shared our spiritual journeys with each other. I had been able to confide in him when I needed help discerning God’s will. He had helped me discover what God wanted me to learn from my trials. He was also a good friend to my husband Ralph.
When the reality of the end of this hit me, I turned quickly to my Divine Daddy. I felt his compassion but I cried out, “Why? How did this happen? What can I do to make it better?”
I could not make it better. There was nothing I could do but surrender it to God. And this was a process. Over the course of the next couple of months, I cried several times because of the loss of the friendship. It took me that long to get over the shock of it ending. There was no apparent reason for the change. And talking to him about it only made it worse. Oh, we remained “friends” but only in a cordial way.
We met for lunch one day to catch up on family and work news. By the time we left the restaurant and went our separate ways, I had finished surrendering to God my desire to restore what we used to have. It had become obvious that we were no longer on the same page in discussing matters of the faith. What was important to me was not something that he wanted to think about, let alone talk about.
As I walked to my car, I remembered the scripture about walking away from those who don’t listen to us:
As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. (Matthew 10:12-14 NIV)
Or put this another way, in the context of losing friendships:
As you visit someone, give him your Christ-like greeting. If he is deserving, the peace of Christ will rest on him; if he is not, the peace of Christ will return to you and comfort you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that person and shake the dust off your feet. Go instead to those who are genuinely good friends, to those who listen to you and who care about you.
The moment I shook off my desire to get back what was lost, I felt peace. And the peace provided healing. Today, if this friend wants to restore our friendship, I’m open to testing it. But he can only pass the test if God has worked in him to make it happen. This is what it means to surrender something to Abba-Father.
Abba’s compassion can heal you
Knowing how Abba-Father feels about your tears can give you great comfort. In his omnipotence, he sees what lies ahead. He has a plan to turn the evil that has happened to you into a blessing that’s far greater than the amount of suffering you’ve endured. There is much reason to rejoice, and yet he is joining you in your sorrow — he is so full of compassion!
To become more aware of this compassion, we first need to discover what’s interfering with our view of it. To do that, we should ask ourselves: “What am I focusing on?” There’s a fine line between holy tears and self-pity. If we remain focused on our woes, we become paralyzed in self-centered misery, which never really heals. If we remain focused on the people who have hurt us, and what we expect from them, we become blind to the compassion of God and we get only more frustrated.
To escape this trap, we need to let go of the other person’s hold on us. We need to forgive.
Remember, forgiveness does not mean that what the other person did was okay. Nor does it necessarily mean that we’re reconciling with them, because that might be unsafe or impossible.
We forgive others because God has forgiven us. We forgive because we want to be free of the other person’s control of our emotions. We forgive because we know that others do bad things because bad has been done to them, and we know that there’s a divinely-designed gem under all the muck of their sins. We also know that they are being controlled by the wrong messages that formed their behaviors and the sins that others committed against them. We feel sad that they have not opened themselves yet to the Lord’s healing love.
Holy tears come from a heart that’s in pain not only for ourselves but also for those who have hurt us. We realize that the evil they have done to us comes from a deep hole in their hearts caused by not receiving all of the love that they needed. They know less about God than we do, and we feel sorry for them because they have not yet opened themselves to the compassion of Abba.
To whatever extent we feel sorry for them, this is but a tiny bit of how the Father feels for them.
By gaining a better understanding of how Abba feels, we begin to see things as God sees them. This can be helped along by the Holy Spirit. Here’s a good way to pray for this:
Come Holy Spirit and fill me. Come Holy Spirit and renew me. You have my permission to change me. Jesus said that he would give us the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father would provide, to teach us all things (John 14:26). Come Holy Spirit and enlighten my eyes so I can see more fully what the Father sees. Anoint my imagination so I can envision what the Father wants to show me. Open my ears to hear the Father’s voice, and help me to know that the words, which sound like my own, are really his. Open my heart so I can receive the healing that the Father wants to give me.
† In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!
Abba’s vision can heal you
God desires to share with you a view of the bigger picture that he sees. Part of that picture is the good that will come from what has been bad.
Sufferings are devastatingly terrible when they’re pointless and unfruitful. Abba-Father always wants to turn grief into joy. Therefore he only allows us to suffer in ways that have the potential to become beneficial to us and to others. He gives meaningful value to our pains by embedding within them a mission — a purpose — that will minister to others and which will also bring the Kingdom of God more fully to Earth.
In the same way that Jesus provides salvation to us through what he suffered, our sufferings can be used to help others. The sacrifices we make, the forgiveness we give, and the healing that we’ve experienced are united to the mission of Jesus. When we look for ways that our sufferings can benefit others, we discover the ministry that Abba-Father wants us to use as a victory cry.
This is a measuring stick that will show you whether you are doing well or poorly in your spiritual growth. When you learn to appreciate suffering because you know there’s a value to it, you are doing well. In fact, when we appreciate suffering, we appreciate God, and by appreciating him, we please him greatly.
Searching for the bigger picture that heals is usually most fruitful when we discern it through the help of a trusted friend or a professional counselor. God speaks to us through them, and when he does, we can more easily recognize that the message was not merely a product of our own wishful thinking.
Joanne is a long-time friend of mine who knows something about my dad, our relationship, and the caregiving that Ralph and I gave him in his final years. Her prayer support has meant a lot to us, but in two short sentences she said something to me that made a huge difference. I felt their healing impact in a way that only happens when God is the author of the message.
She said, “You didn’t get the father you needed. Your father got the daughter he needed.” Suddenly, it no longer mattered that my dad had not fathered me the way I wanted him to. A higher purpose came delightfully into my awareness. God had put me into this family for a mission that no one else could do like I could do. You, too, have a mission that no one else can do like you can do.
To help me fulfill my mission, Abba-Father gifted me with a spiritual director who led me through the inner healing that opened me to the Father’s perfect love (as described on Day 2 of this book). And he gave me a friend who became a priest who revealed the Eucharist to me and whose alcoholism ruined our friendship and his ministry, which taught me important lessons that helped me become my dad’s caregiver. And Abba did many other things that enabled me to respond to my dad in healthy, loving, holy ways. All of which helped me to write this book for your benefit.
Today’s Exercise Part 1:
The bigger picture
Consider the bigger picture of a situation in which someone in your past caused you to suffer and you still feel the pain of it today. How have your experiences with it benefited someone else? This is far greater than simply finding relief for your own heartbreaks. Armed with this knowledge, you can discover that the past no longer drags you down. The past becomes fuel for a greater purpose. And this purpose becomes fuel for the healing you need — and for the healing that others need!
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Knowing Abba’s divine will can heal you
One of the stumbling blocks that prevent us from moving forward in healing is the question: “Why me? Why do I have to suffer this?” Jesus answered this in a revelation to the mystic Luisa Piccarreta. She lived from 1865 to 1947, in Italy, and is known as the “Little Daughter of the Divine Will”; she is being considered for canonization as a saint and is currently defined as a Servant of God. Confined to her bed as a victim soul since the age of 16, she spent most of her life without food, nourished only by the Holy Eucharist.
Jesus often visited her, and on January 30, 1909, he said:
My daughter, in almost all of the events that occur, creatures keep repeating, over and over again: “And why? And why? And why? Why this illness? Why this interior state? Why this scourge?” And many other why’s. The explanation of “why” is not written on earth, but in Heaven, and there everyone will read it.
Do you know what “why” is? It is egoism, which gives continuous food to love of self. Do you know where “why” was created? In hell. Who was the first one that pronounced it? A demon. The effects produced by the first “why” were the loss of innocence in Eden Itself, the war of untamable passions, the ruin of many souls, the evils of life. The story of “why” is long; it is enough to tell you that there is no evil in the world which does not carry the mark of “why”.
“Why” is destruction of divine wisdom in souls. And do you know where “why” will be buried? In hell, to make them restless for eternity, without ever giving them peace. The art of “why” is to wage war against souls, without ever giving them respite.
Jesus is not forbidding the question but rather the continuance of the question. It can be very helpful to investigate why something has happened so that we can learn from it. But when it becomes a lament, a complaint, then we are doubting God. We are assuming that he does not care enough to make things “right” (according to our own idea of what should happen). We are disbelieving that he is involved in what is happening to us.
By grumbling about what has happened, we presume to know a situation better than God does. We behave as if our will is more important than Divine Will.
There’s nothing wrong with being unhappy about a situation — especially when it occurs due to someone’s rejection of Divine Will. Our sin begins when we dwell on it instead of looking for the good that God can bring from it. We sin by being inconsolable, blocking our Divine Daddy from giving us his love and compassion — blocking him by insisting that we cannot be happy until he does what we want him to do.
It is not sinful to be dissatisfied with earthly imperfections, the trials that come due to living in a world that is no longer the Garden of Eden. We have a natural longing for heaven. We were created to live there with God for all eternity. It’s our true home, and instinctively we know it. That’s why we complain when we experience something unheavenly here on Earth.
Sin sets in when we expect perfection even though perfection is only possible in Heaven. We cry, “God, I’m tired of this trial! When are You going to make it end?” Have you ever felt like saying, “God, You obviously don’t understand how bad this problem is for me. Can’t you see I’m suffering here? Oh God, when are you going to make that person change so that I can enjoy my life better?”
Complaining is an indication that we’ve let our heavenly expectations push aside our earthly need to trust God.
Worse, when we complain to others, we’re spreading our distrust. As soon as we become aware that grumblings are welling up within us, or as soon as we feel dissatisfied with life here on Earth, we need to surrender our complaints to the loving heart of the Father. We must take our complaints directly to God. No one else. (The only exception is a counselor or friend who can help us become more holy and healed.)
When our complaints disappear into God’s compassionate heart, our frustration dissipates. It’s absolutely amazing! Try it! Pick a complaint and let it melt into God. He’s wrapping you in his warm and caring hug. He understands you. He knows what injustices have caused you to suffer. He is receiving your complaint and replacing it with peace or restfulness or joy or hope or ____. What good gift is he giving you in exchange for entrusting your complaint to him?
I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
(Psalm 77:1-2,7-14 NIV)
Complaints mean that we’ve forgotten how much God is already blessing us.
But to be fully healed, we must go beyond the complaints, beyond surrendering them to the Lord. Not only should we stop complaining about our crosses; we must love them.
And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:22-23 NIV)
And how can we love our crosses? I passed an important milestone in my spiritual journey when my spiritual director, Father Williams, listened to my complaints and said, “You must embrace your crosses.” How? By realizing that they unite us to Christ — to the Passion of the Christ, which he willingly and lovingly suffered for us.
Not every cross that we carry is a cross that God has assigned to us. Probably most or all of the father-wounds that we’ve dealt with in this book were not what God wanted you to experience. But he did freely choose to permit them so that he can turn them into many blessings for you and for others. He delights greatly in mocking the Devil who thought he could take advantage of you.
Some crosses are to be dropped quickly. Some are to be endured for a season. Some are a beautiful gift from God to make your holiness shine. Abba-Father will help you figure out which is which in your life, usually through a spiritual director or a Spirit-filled friend who listens to your pain and understands your heart.
Today’s Exercise Part 2:
The final steps to healing
Some of us need more ways to progress in healing than what I’m presenting here. If this book is leaving your wounds feeling open, exposed, and raw, please run (don’t walk!) to the nearest priest, spiritual director or therapist. Abba-Father cannot complete his mission of providing you with healing unless you cooperate with the full plan.
Now let’s do a spiritual exercise that can help you receive his healing compassion.
Begin with the Holy Spirit prayer above (found in the middle of this chapter). Then return to this section.
The Holy Spirit is anointing your imagination. Trust it. I’m going to lead you through a visual prayer.
Imagine that Jesus is sitting next to you (he really is, of course). In front of you is a red brick pathway leading up to a huge castle door. Can you see the castle? This is the King’s palace.
Jesus stands up and invites you to walk with him to the castle door. Imagine that you get up and follow him. When the two of you reach the door, you see how huge it is. It’s made of gold. How can anyone open this heavy, giant-size door? For Jesus, it’s easy. He simply touches it and it swings wide open.
Now imagine a red carpet inside the door. It’s leading to a throne. The King is seated upon his throne and he is smiling at you. A big “I’m so proud of you, my beloved child” smile. This is your Divine Daddy!
He says, “You are most welcome here, my child, for I have adopted you. You are a prince/princess. You belong here. Come closer. I care so much about you that I want to hear all about what’s bothering you.”
Walk forward on the red carpet. If you have trouble getting started, let Jesus carry you or hold your hand as he leads the way.
Imagine reaching the base of the huge throne. When you look up at the King, he seems too huge to fully see. But his hand is reaching out to you. A safe, caring, gentle hand.
The moment you accept his helping hand, you find yourself on his lap. Take time to imagine what it looks like and what it feels like.
Then tell him about the pain you feel from the wounds you’ve been thinking about. Tell him about it from the depths of your heart — the well from which your tears flow.
Notice the tears of Abba.
No one else cares about you to the extent that God does. No one possibly can. His love is more. Always much more. Full and complete. Perfect.
Go back and look at what you’ve written in the exercises of this book from previous days. Tell Abba about them. Read what you jotted down in the second column of the exercise on Day 2. Thank Abba for being the Perfect Father.
The final step toward healing is to let God fill in the gaps that were left by human imperfections. This is a lifelong journey.
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© 2020 by Terry A. Modica
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