Goliath Has Many Faces

Have you faced any goliaths recently? Did you run in fear, or did you face the battle? Was the outcome good or bad? How did you meet your goliath: with grit and tenacity alone, or coupled with your faith that God will help you prevail? All good questions to ask and answer, and only you and I can answer them.

My cat, Sophie, was just diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer. She just started a regimen of prednisone and chemotherapy. Now, she doesn’t know how or why she’s feeling the way she is. But I do. And I am, honestly, terrified of losing my companion. She has been with me since the death of my mother, and she has truly established a relationship with me. She spends a lot of time on my lap and nestles in looking for comfort.

Now, I know that some will say to me: I’m sorry you and Sophie have to go through this. And others will say: Hey, it’s just a cat! True. I have friends and family that are also battling cancer, and they have family members and friends to comfort them and give them strength. Sophie only has me. At this moment, her cancer is my goliath.

Today’s first reading is one of the iconic stories of the Old Testament, the triumph of David over the giant Philistine, Goliath. As we know, David prevailed. I have to admit that one of my guilty pleasures is any story or movie in which the underdog betters the “giant,” the bully in the story, and I cheer at the end when the big guy is deflated. This storyline is used over and over again with different characters and slightly different circumstances. I love a good “David won” ending.

We can make these same storyline comparisons to our times of struggling with significant obstacles: illnesses, job issues, divorce, loss of a child or loved one, etc., so we can all relate. The big question is how we overcome these struggles. David trusted in God, the Lord of Israel, to be his backup and strength. David trusted, and, coupled with his knowledge of the sling, faced the giant and defeated him. I believe each of us has a few “slings” in our arsenals of defense when fighting our goliaths, but none stronger than trust in God and faith in the fact that God will shore us up when we are in need. Very simple to say, but more challenging to put into action. The alternative is to run in fear and be defeated. That is not an outcome any of us want. Facing those fears with faith can only serve to make us stronger than we were when we started the battle.

Do you pray daily, hourly, minute by minute when fighting your goliath? Do you pray for faith even in the good times and not just rely on God when feeling defeated? Sophie may only be a cat, but I still pray that I will have the strength to see her through the tough times and, perhaps, even have to lose her to keep her from suffering needlessly. Her cause is just as important to me at this time of my life than any of the other things I’ve faced. Nothing is too small or insignificant to warrant prayer and trust. Whatever you face will need your prayer and faith to overcome.

Today is the National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. Here is the goliath in the room of today’s culture, among other issues. The faithfulness and prayer of millions, working in the fields of medical science and political legislation, have helped in making great strides in limiting the destruction of these innocents, but there is much more work to do. Can it be done? I believe it can. Think of the great things our country, as well as the world, has overcome through prayer: the fall of Russia, the Berlin Wall, the great world wars, equality, to name just a few. These accomplishments are not only through military might but the might of prayer, especially the Rosary, to change people’s hearts. If we learn anything from all of this, it is to not give up, ever, in the face of injustice.

So, hang in there! In the end, God will always prevail. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

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Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager at Diocesan, is a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. Jeanne has worked in parish ministry as an RCIA director, in Liturgy, and as a Cantor. Working word puzzles and reading fill her spare time. Jeanne can be reached at jpenoyar@diocesan.com.