One of the great mysteries of God is that he uses suffering and hardship as a way of not only disciplining and shaping those he loves but also in order to draw us closer to himself and to subsequently provide us with more happiness in this life.

James 1:2-4 says, So why do we go to great lengths to avoid sufferings if they are designed by God to draw us closer to him?

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They have three sons, one of them born to heaven, and they enjoy life in the Pacific Northwest. Cameron is in awe of every new leaf he turns over in his journey as a Catholic and is anxious to inspire readers through his experiences in athletics, parenting, marriage, leadership, pro-life ministry, and living the Catholic faith as a young adult.

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Comfort has become a human tendency more today than perhaps ever before, with air conditioning, cushioned seats, fast food, and a sense that difficulty and hardships should be avoided at all costs.

There is nothing wrong with any of these comforts of life in and of themselves, but when they are used to avoid any type of suffering and to fulfill the deepest desires and longings of the human heart, we often find ourselves feeling empty and alone.

And so without knowing it at the time, I experienced a taste of what I believe Jesus wants us to feel- poverty of spirit. Because of our first-world access to amenities in America, it can be easy to replace our hardships and regain an easy state of living, but next time adversity arises in your life, however large or small, remember what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 about the thorn in his side: As difficult as this may be sometimes, it is how God has chosen to provide us with happiness and a pathway to heaven.

And I have been trying to recapture that sense of openness and desperation for God ever since, even though it was the most difficult time of my life. We are all searching for the path to true happiness.

The utter desperation I felt during this time was one that, although incredibly painful, created the most uniquely joyful, peaceful, content state that I have ever felt because when your world is rocked and you are thrown violently into an abyss of spiritual poverty, you have no choice but to look up to the Savior of the universe in your dire need and rest completely in His divinity. Fasting from food is a simple way to create poverty of spirit and a is a method that has been practiced by Christians and Jews for thousands of years. Abstaining from phones, TV, cars, hot showers, or alcohol can all serve as methods of creating spiritual poverty.

And so for nine months I prayed, read, meditated, wrote, and cried longingly to God because it was my only option. When a basic staple is removed we have no choice but to enter a state of poverty and mourning, which, contrary to popular belief, does not necessarily indicate sadness or lack of joy (blessed are those who mourn anyone?? Removing a small piece of comfort like having food on demand enables us to “fast with our whole heart, that is to say, willingly, wholeheartedly, universally and entirely” (St. And the next time the air conditioning dies in church or you have to walk instead of drive or your shoes create a blister or your internet service cuts out, use these situations as an opportunity to allow God to pierce your soul through the “poverty” you are experiencing instead of complaining or scrambling to quickly return to a comfortable state.

Part of our job as Christians is to provide an example of how to live a happy, fulfilling life in this world, and what better place to look for direction than the Beatitudes- the guide Jesus presented as a key to getting to heaven and dragging others with us?

And if we are following this ultimate life-map, we may as well start with #1- blessed are the poor in spirit.

Distance was to put up an unnecessary wall with others.