To hope when you have failed God
Before we sin the Lord is always the gentle accuser - don't harm yourself or damage your relationship with me - calling us to draw closer and take refuge where He will shoulder the yoke with us. The demon on the other hand is the appeaser. "Go on", it's not a big thing anyway and you can always confess your sin later - you're stressed lately and you deserve a bit of fun. After we sin the roles are reversed. Jesus is good shepherd - "Come to me and receive life giving waters, healing and forgiveness" The demon is now the accuser "see what you've done - and you call your self a Christian and even think you might someday give your life to God. You are a joke. You might just as well give up".
What does it mean to hope then when I have have failed God? More precisely, what does it mean to hope when I "feel" like I have failed God in some area of life? This is a fertile area of growth in sanctity and trust but is also a fertile area where the demon meddles continuously. All of us make personal efforts in some way or another to better ourselves or to "co-operate" with the Holy Spirit in some area we struggle with. Maybe it's a decision to fast or to pray more or do some charitable work or rid ourselves of a bad habit. Then we fall - sometimes badly and are left despondent and maybe angry. We wonder how the Saints did it and why we cannot. Like John and James we want to call down fire from heaven (Luke 9:54) to burn up our weakness so that we can be "perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Is that really true though? Perhaps what we really want is to feel good about ourselves and our "spiritual profile" and have others notice it too. None of us really like to tell others about our sins and we have to make an effort to hide our good deeds and our virtues. What does that reveal to us about the purity of our "efforts"? This is our broken nature after the fall and we can't fix ourselves. Jesus rebuked James and John for wanting to call down fire from Heaven because He is patient with those who take time to turn about and face into his Gaze. He wants us to be the same way with ourselves, and with that particular weakness. Jesus allows our weaknesses to remain in us so that a movement occurs within from me-centeredness for God to God-centeredness (for me). The latter direction is the place where I find my true self. Having failed in every effort to please God and merit some "idea" of sanctity we are left faced with the brutal reality of our nothingness and cry out - Father! Ah! then the Father smiles because we have abandoned ourselves and are ready to listen to His voice. The perfection of the Heavenly Father is then His perfection living within us. The real process of sanctification has begun
So when those falls occur rejoice and dance for joy not because of the fall but because of the opportunity to shift your vision into His Kingdom with the knowledge that the Fire He calls down from heaven is the fire of Divine Mercy. To be immersed in Christ is to be immersed in that Mercy in every gaze gesture thought word and deed. It creates. It does not destroy. The demon on the other hand tempts us to destruction when we fail with accusations and thoughts of self deprecation and a puffed of resolution such as " by **** I'm going to get it right the next time", usually throwing in the words "by the grace of God" to give our me centered efforts a veneer of authenticity.
St Therese of Lisieux - Pray for us to walk by the hidden and small way of humility and to never look at ourselves without God directing our gaze through His own.