fresh blanket of snow. The quiet munching of the herd. A cat on a hay bale. It’s the perfect Sunday morning as I lead our milk cow into the barn.

Cats and dogs sit nearby, licking their lips as sweet milk sprays the sides of my pail. Stella, our new milk cow, is just getting used to the routine. She’s quiet, but as she finishes her pail of oats, she starts getting a bit restless. Just as well. I have enough milk now as my hands begin to cramp.

And then it happens. She lifts her tail and lets it go. Fresh manure hits the straw and sprays in every direction. And there it is—melting like a chunk of butter in a pot of rice—poop in my pail.

My perfect morning was shattered. Instantly grumpy. I led her back to the corral, washed my bucket, and plumped myself down in my office to pout for a minute. But what I read next changed my mood in a hurry—a word allegedly from Momma earlier today:

Dear children! My earthly life was simple. I loved and I rejoiced in small things. I loved life—the gift from God—even though pain and sufferings pierced my heart. My children, I had the strength of faith and boundless trust in God’s love. All those who have the strength of faith are stronger. Faith makes you live according to what is good and then the light of God’s love always comes at the desired moment. That is the strength which sustains in pain and suffering. My children, pray for the strength of faith, trust in the Heavenly Father, and do not be afraid. Know that not a single creature who belongs to God will be lost but will live forever. Every pain has its end and then life in freedom begins there where all of my children come – where everything is returned. My children, your battle is difficult. It will be even more difficult, but you follow my example.  Pray for the strength of faith; trust in the love of the Heavenly Father. I am with you. I am manifesting myself to you. I am encouraging you. With immeasurable motherly love I am caressing your souls. Thank you. —Our Lady of Medjugorje to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo, March 18th, 2018 (annual apparition)

A good and holy reminder: true peace is not the fruit of the absence of suffering, but the presence of faith.

Our Lady reveals something crucial here. You see, every day, there is going to be poop in the pail. Another big bill. A pile of dirty dishes. An annoying co-worker. A new car repair. Another illness. Another disappointment… Faith is what says, “God has given these to me as a gift to see, first, what kind of a person I am (patient or not, charitable or not, humble or not…. etc.); and second, to test whether I really trust in Him.” Because it is not a perfect day that increases our communion with the Holy Trinity, but a death to our self-love, self-will, and a desire to be God—to control everything around us.

Amen, amen, I say to you,  unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. (Today’s Gospel)

When we respond in childlike faith and trust (which is to die to wanting to fret, control, and reject the suffering), God is ready to bless that:

God’s love always comes at the desired moment. That is the strength which sustains in pain and suffering. 

Many times, we miss those little graces of strength that the Lord wants to give because we’re too busy griping, throwing a fit, or feeling sorry for ourselves. But here’s the deal:

…he is found by those who do not put him to the test, and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him. (Wis 1:2)

Our Lady goes on to say:

My children, your battle is difficult. It will be even more difficult, but you follow my example.  Pray for the strength of faith; trust in the love of the Heavenly Father.

Our prayer should not be for more patience, humility, or self-control. Rather, it should be for faith. Because faith, hope, and love are the roots from which all the other virtues (patience, humility, self-control, etc.) grow. Even if I were a starving man, and the cow poops in my pail, I ought to say: “Jesus, I trust in you, even though this was to be my only meal today.” That is the kind of faith that moves mountains, even if it is faith the size of a mustard seed!

The graces of My mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is-trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to Me, because I pour all the treasures of My graces into them. I rejoice that they ask for much, because it is My desire to give much, very much. On the other hand, I am sad when souls ask for little, when they narrow their hearts.  —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1578

So, when life poops in your pail, say to God again: “Not my will, but yours be done.” [1] See that trial immediately as a gift, even if your emotions are telling you the opposite. Recognize that God is nudging you to, once again, fix your eyes on eternal matters and not to fret about the temporal ones. [2]

I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I am came to this hour. Father, glorify your name. (Today’s Gospel)

Yes, trials and temptations are unsettling and disturbing. But Jesus’ trust in the Father teaches us what to do:

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess 5:16-128)

This Scripture is either true or insane. Who rejoices or gives thanks when there’s poop in the pail? The one who has faith that all things work to the good for those who love God. (Rom 8:28)

My children, pray for the strength of faith, trust in the Heavenly Father, and do not be afraid.

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