How to Face Change and Challenges with Grace

This time of year brings a lot of change with it. Whether you’re graduating, getting married, or moving to a new place, times of change can bring both joys and challenges. And those challenges often have an impact on our spiritual life. So how can we approach change in a way that allows us to not only overcome challenges, but use them as an opportunity to grow? Fr. Sam Martin, a priest in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin stopped by The Inner Life® this week to discuss just that.

Drawing from his own experience with change, and the challenges that come with it, Fr. Martin shared that he recently received news that he will be assigned to a different parish this year. After spending eight years at his current parish, this new assignment brings with it much excitement, but also much uncertainty.

“We resist changes, especially when things are kind of going along the way we want,” Fr. Martin said. “You know, we feel some control, we were just in a sweet spot in our life, so to speak. But the Lord is always on the move. He’s always leading us.”

Although change often means the end of something, it is important to take a long-range look at what the Lord is calling us to, and recognize the fruit that change often brings.

Fr. Martin said, “Change is a dying to ourselves, and like the grain of wheat we’re falling to the ground. And that stings. But we grow when we’re stretched. Change can be difficult, it can be terribly overwhelming. And yet, by God’s grace it can bear copious fruit that will remain.”

Fr. Martin suggested that when we are faced with a situation that will stretch us, we should not just go by our feelings, but take the matter to prayer to see what the Lord is really calling us toward. He said, “Our first visceral reaction is no. But we should pray. Because God will help. He knows, He would only ask us to do something if it were good for us. It may be challenging and it may cause intense suffering, but in the end He wants our good because He loves us, and love wills the good of the other.”

Sometimes we choose to make a change, but other times we have no choice and change just happens. In either situation, asking the Lord for the grace to endure the challenges, sufferings, and uncertainty that come with change is a powerful opportunity to grow in holiness.

“Sometimes we don’t let go, God just takes,” Fr. Martin said. “But He knows how we grow. And He knows that it’s in contradictions and struggles and setbacks. It’s really by God’s grace, and our own consent and cooperation. That produces gold. That produces a saint. That’s why we’re here. And the only people that ever became truly holy followed this path. Suffering the cross of Christ, crucified yet risen. So He’ll help us, no doubt about that.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

The Inner Life  airs weekdays at noon Eastern/9:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.