A while ago, a boss blindsided a friend of mine. I know the boss, and while he has a talent in his field and is adept at abstract thinking, his personality is somewhat dour. My friend is non-confrontational and gentle — maybe too much so. Thus, the makings of a bombshell.
My friend’s boss told him he was seriously thinking of transferring him to another department. That move would mean a demotion. To make matters worse, the boss told him the move would happen because of things he’d heard from others. The boss, in other words, hadn’t even asked my friend for his side of the story.
My friend was dumbstruck. To make matters worse, the conversation happened at the end of the work day. This meant that my friend had no immediate recourse, such as to the boss’s supervisor. My friend’s home situation at the time was on the stressful side, too. He had a long, taxing commute, and a new baby had just arrived. My friend wanted to spare his wife any anxiety.
He thought about the situation silently for hours, but not in a spiritually healthy way. He had defaulted to a “what if” type of reasoning. It didn’t take long for him to imagine several scenarios that could happen the next day. Not surprisingly, all this daydreaming only made him angry. He quickly realized that he was wasting his time through useless speculation.
When his habitual prayer time arrived that evening, he was ready to simply give the whole thing over to the Lord. He was suspicious of doing this, though. He’s a bit of a thinker, my friend. He is a big believer in the happy marriage of faith and reason, yes. But he’s also prone to over-thinking things, especially stressful things.
As he tells it, though, my friend said that when he called on the Lord during prayer, he was reminded of a Scripture passage he had never really paid all that much attention to before.
The Word hit my friend with inner force. He experienced the kind of spiritual certainty that Saint Teresa of Avila writes of as when the soul is instantly filled at the Source.
In the Scripture passage, the woman who makes the appeal is a widow. In Christ’s time, society overlooked and disregarded widows. She says this phrase to a dishonest judge, someone she cannot really trust. Worse, she is not even sure the judge is hearing her. Day after day, she visits the judge to make her plea.
But we know the end of the story. Even the dishonest judge finally gives her real justice.
How do we imagine, then, that the all-good and all-loving God will respond when we persist in that prayer?
My friend prayed the widow’s plea. When doubts arose in his heart even after his usual prayer time, he peacefully returned to the prayer.
The very next morning, his boss met him as he came into work. Before my friend had a chance to say anything, the boss said, “I’m sorry if I upset you yesterday. You belong where you are. Maybe we can have a further conversation about some of the things I’ve heard.”
My friend was flabbergasted. It was the first and the last time that boss gave him anything like an apology. They cleared up the misunderstandings, and the two got along somewhat better after that.
The Lord promised us that his followers would encounter persecutions. But He also promised us an abode in His very Heart, where he protects the just and shelters the orphan. All we need do is trust His Word and cooperate with His always-available grace.