“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
I love Paul’s confidence. He is just so certain that God works in our lives and persists until the work is completed. I wish I had that kind of confidence. I know that God loves me and seeks to bring about my good, but I am such a worrier that it’s hard for me to trust that God is working. I am not by nature a confident person, and, although I’ve grown a lot, I still find myself beset by self doubt and fear of failure. When faced with a daunting experience, I often persevere by faking confidence. It is not until afterwards, when I recognize that God was present with me through the experience, that, with a sigh of relief, I thank God for the good work that God has done in me.
Even though I cannot always drum up confidence myself, I do take great reassurance from Paul’s words. They invite me to look back over my life for signs of God, and when I do, I see clear evidence of God continuing the good work that God began when I was created. This prayer of recollection is helpful in seeing evidence of God’s care, and it’s a practice that deepens my trust. It shows me how I have had what I needed from God to meet each challenge in front of me. My growth has been slow and hard to recognize in the moment, but has come in the fullness of time. Even through difficulty, God has persisted to bring about good.
Since it’s Advent, I can’t help but to turn my thoughts to God’s work in the life of Mary, too. Despite becoming pregnant as an unmarried teenager, having to get out of town when she visited her cousin (in whom God was also doing a great work), and traveling quite far when she was quite pregnant, Mary persisted. Nevertheless, she persisted. It kind of brings a new meaning to that already meaningful hashtag, doesn’t it? Even when there was no room in the inn and the first time she gave birth was in a barn, she persisted. How did she do that? None of her circumstances were ideal – in fact, they were kind of awful – but God always provided for her along the way. God persisted with her and within her.
God persisted in making the impossible possible, the empty full, and scary things safe – and God continues to take that kind of action in us. God is the one taking the initiative to work in our lives. God persists, so I invite you, with me, to try to move from fear to confidence in God’s great work.
2 PHIL 1:4-6, 8-11
Brothers and sisters: I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/120918.cfm)
By Sister Leslie Keener, CDP