I always thought that loving difficult people came easily to nuns. I mean, isn’t it something they just naturally do? Surely they don’t struggle with it like I do!
But in the pages of Jan Johnson’s new (and excellent) book Meeting God in Scripture, I came across a prayer of Mother Teresa’s that suggests otherwise. What if it was no easier for Mother Teresa to love prickly people than it is for me? What if she just asked God for help more frequently and desperately than I do?
Here’s the prayer:
Dearest Lord, may I see you today and every day in the person of your sick, and, whilst nursing them, minister unto you.
Though you hide yourself behind the unattractive disguise of the irritable, the exacting, the unreasonable, may I still recognize you, and say: “Jesus, my patient, how sweet it is to serve you.”
And O God, while you are Jesus my patient, deign also to be to me a patient Jesus, bearing with my faults, looking only to my intention, which is to love and serve you in the person of each one of your sick.
Lord, increase my faith, bless my efforts and work, now and for evermore, Amen.*
I need this prayer! I need to see Jesus in the “unattractive disguise” of the sandpaper people I encounter on any given day. I need Him to accept my feeble attempts at loving as ministry offered to Him. I need him “to be to me a patient Jesus.” I need Him to look past my faults so He can see my intentions. I need this increase of faith and blessing on my efforts and work.
So this is another prayer I expect I will be memorizing and praying often.** And though I am quite sure no one will mistake me for Mother Teresa, perhaps, by God’s grace, over time, He will enable me to have more of His own love for people, even the ones who are tough to love.
*I am quoting Jan Johnson (Meeting God in Scripture, p. 185) who was quoting Veronica Zundel, ed, Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers: A Treasury of Christian Prayers Through the Centuries.