The ability to judge well
There is a story told about a man who would pray each day to win the lottery.
As the weeks passed the jackpot amount increased because there was no winner. The frequency and intensity of the man’s prayer also increased.
He was constantly storming heaven with his request until God finally spoke and said to him, “Please, meet me halfway; at least buy a ticket.”
It seems natural to dream about having lots of money because we believe that this will help to make us happy. In the Old Testament we find a man who did not ask God for money; he asked for something far more significant.
In the First Book of Kings (1 Kings 3:5-12) we read about Solomon who was the son of King David and his wife Bathsheba.
He has just succeeded his father as King of Israel and one night the Lord appears to him in a dream and asks Solomon, “What should I give you?” He responds, “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil.”
The Lord responds, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind.”
Throughout his life Solomon was noted for his great wisdom and was an effective leader. During a period of peace with his neighbours, he built the first Holy Temple of Jerusalem and Israel prospered during his reign. All of this was because he asked for the gift of discernment.
Life is full of decisions and situations that require the ability to judge well. Think of all the choices that we make on a daily basis. The more significant the decision, the greater the deliberation that is required.
Discernment helps us in this very important process. How does it work?
St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, a religious order of men known as the Jesuits, believed that discernment is intimately connected to knowing and following God’s will. As a young soldier he was wounded in battle and convalesced for many months in a Spanish castle.
The reading material was limited and after he finished all the books about valiant knights and their conquests, all that was left were books about the life of Jesus and the lives of saints. He reluctantly read them because he was bored.
St. Ignatius states that after reading the books about chivalry he would daydream about being a knight and this would bring him joy; however, this would pass and then he would feel emptiness. When he read about Jesus and the saints, this also brought him joy; however, it remained and never left him.
This experience led to his conversion as he asked himself, “Why can I not walk these same glorious paths as did the saints?” St. Ignatius realized that he had gone through a discernment process and his final decision was that if he wanted lasting joy rather than emptiness, he had to change his life. He did and the rest is history.
Like Solomon and St. Ignatius of Loyola, God speaks to each one of us in our hearts, minds and souls. If we take the time to listen, then God will help us in all of our choices. If we have been able to develop the gift of discerning wisely, then we have ‘won the lottery’.
“The ability to judge well” was published on http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/10/20/the-ability-to-judge-well