Sunflower Seeds logo

Sunflower Seeds


Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

A Prayer for When Life Doesn’t Make Sense

Sometimes life is good and faith is easy. Choose your image: the seas of your life are calm… the various components of your life are gently falling into place… the people around you are pleasant, agreeable, and kind.

But sometimes life doesn’t make sense and faith is tough. Really tough. Things happen (or a single BIG thing happens) that (choose your image): knocks you off your feet… causes you to cry out “No! No!” in disbelief… raises the nagging question again, “How could a good God allow This Terrible Thing to happen?” This is a prayer for times like that.

(photo by Juan Pablo Arenas)

“Prayer for When Life Doesn’t Make Sense”

I don’t get it, God… I just don’t understand… And I WANT to understand… I NEED to understand.

Just explain it to me. Help me to see how This Thing makes sense. I think I could accept it if it somehow made sense. If it was logical… fair… reasonable. If I could see a PURPOSE in it. Or, better yet, if I could see some GOOD in it… Some GOOD that This Thing will bring about… Some GOOD that outweighs the bad I can only see now… Some GOOD that makes This Thing not only permissible, but acceptable.

I’m hanging on, God. I’m hanging on to the end of a branch, and I’m pretty high up in the tree too… (Or) I’m clinging to my capsized canoe, and being tossed up and down by the waves… (Or) I’m reciting, “The Lord is my shepherd the Lord is my shepherd” again and again, words that used to give me comfort, but now seem hollow and empty.

All I have left right now, God, is faith. Pure faith. Or (more accurately) all I have left right now is my trust in you… in your wisdom… your goodness… your love. I’m trying to trust in you, God, but frankly my trust is wearing thin. Very thin. So thin I sometimes wonder if it exists at all.

(photo by Pixabay)

So, here I am, God, begging, as I sometimes have to do. I’m begging you to help me. Help me to hang on. Give me the strength to face This Thing… to deal with This Thing… to endure This Thing. And give me direction. Help me to see what This Thing might mean for me… what it might be asking of me… what it might be calling me to do. As I ask for these things, I am thinking of Jesus, your son.

For in Gethsemane, Jesus too faced a BIG thing that made no sense… that knocked him to his knees: his looming death by crucifixion. It was there among the old gnarled olive trees that he uttered words that I imagine were similar to the words I am crying now: “Not this, God!… Not this!… Anything but this!” Jesus begged you his Father, “Let this cup pass from me.” But then he added those words I am trying to make my own, “Not as I will, but as you will” (Mt. 26:39)… Jesus was clinging to the only thing he had left: his unconditional trust in you. Because his trust in you was so deep, he could cry out with a loud voice even while hanging on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk. 23:46).

Loving God, I beg you now. Help me to make Jesus’ words my own. Help me to believe This Thing is in your hands… and so am I… and so are we all. Amen.

(photo by Dziana Hasanbekava)

Our video today is Carrie Newcomer’s lovely song “Sanctuary.” She reminds us that God is our Ultimate Sanctuary. But God calls us to be a sanctuary for each other, especially in time of need. As you pray this song, ask yourself, “Who has been a sanctuary for me in my time of need?” And, “For whom have I been a sanctuary?” Toward the end of this video, you will see a flock of birds flying close together, forming beautiful and intricate patterns in the sky. This phenomenon is called “murmuring.” And it is fascinating to watch. Scientists don’t know why some flocks of birds (starlings, for example) do this. Is it a way of bonding? Is it intended to confuse predators? And HOW do they do it? Why aren’t they crashing into each other? The “murmuring of birds”… just another great mystery in our amazing world…

I invite you to respond below to this reflection…

PS: On the lighter side, a Benedictine friend of mine, Brother Ben, sent me the June page from an Appalachian calendar, “Simple Life Style.” Each day is dedicated to something—or even more than one thing. Here’s this weeks’ dedications: MON: Peace with Justice Day… TUES: Best Friends’ Day/ World Oceans Day… WED: Senior Citizen Day… THURS: Herb & Spices Day/ Ice Tea Day… FRI: Corn on the Cob Day… SAT: World Day Against Child Labor/ Knit in Public Day… SUN: Weed Your Garden Day/ Children’s Day.

21 Responses

  1. What a beautiful song! Your blog was much needed as I begin my new adventure. Closing one chapter in my life and starting another. It hasn’t been easy and there has been lots of steep hills thankfully my strong faith and wonderful family and friends have been by my side the entire time. Life is what you make of it so give good!

  2. Good morning, Sr. Melannie…
    Good morning, all…

    I echo Michelle: “What a beautiful song!” And a what true and important prayer. Would that our lives — this world! — were one glorious murmuring of togetherness, but, alas, no, and so we search for answers, trying to live by faith and not by sight (so hard!), hoping, needing those sprigs of rosemary.

  3. Love this one today and will pass it on to someone I know who is going through one of the Big Things you talk about. Thanks as always for your messages that help so many

  4. Thank you for Sanctuary. The word itself and dynamic meaning. Seeking when needed and being the same for others. Much to reflect one this Monday. Gracias~

  5. Thank you, Sr. Melannie,
    Beautiful song and visuals. And thank you for sharing a prayer of faith for a time of anguish.

  6. Sr. Melannie,
    Your work has been such an inspiration for me so many times. Today is a classic! The prayer is a keeper for those times when life doesn’t make sense. The video was beautiful and the song brought tears to my eyes. Your work inspires me to be a better person. Enough said…it was a great work put together by you. Thank you.

  7. Thank you Sister Melannie, your blog was what I needed this morning. The song so beautiful! I have seen birds murmuring before and it is so beautiful to watch, had no idea it was called murmuring.
    Have a great week!

  8. Beautiful song, I played it for my Mom as she lies in her hospital bed. We both needed to hear it.

  9. Dear Sr Melannie, thank you so much for the prayer (and for Carrie Newcomer, whose consistently compassionate, unfailingly irenic, songs inspire me always).

    I despair of finding a solution to my sleep woes. The conventional treatment has been tried thrice, and it has failed thrice. Other treatments are not “covered” by my insurance. I keenly lament that I’m not getting the help that I need, and have been angry at God over it on more than one occasion.

    Might I express a wee, if off-topic, gratitude for my recent life in other aspects? Last night I saw a dear, dear friend whom I haven’t seen in person since the pandemic claustration began. To say that I was overjoyed is the most farcical of understatements. I knelt before my friend (a woman of approximately my age) and, after having asked her permission, kissed her shoes. She was, I am glad to report, not taken aback, but thanked me for “blessing” her!

    OK, weird tangent, I grant you, but I am ever so happy that my life is enriched by such amazing friends as L. — I could almost weep for joy!

  10. Thank you, Sr. Melanie! Beautiful prayer and song! I love the music of Carrie Newcomer. I was actually thinking of her as I read your reflection. Another of her songs came to mind: “You Can Do This Hard Thing.”
    Your newsletter is an essential part of my Monday morning prayer and meditation. Thank you!

  11. I really needed this today as I am facing some very serious health issues and I’m afraid. The song was beautiful and even though I have seen flocks of birds “murmuring”, I had no idea what it was called. Thank you, Sr. Melannie

  12. Thank you….while listening …i felt God wants us to be His santuary also….and help Him to carry on….

  13. Oh what a wonderful prayer. It’s going in my “Notes” for future whatever’s!!! I also have a friend who can use it right now. Good timing.
    Also, love Carrie and her song. I’ve never heard of her. Beautiful voice.
    Thanks AGAIN….. for your wonderful blog.

  14. Thank you so much. Several times in my almost 80 years have I been “brought to my knees”. It has always been my Faith, trust and music like today’’s that has brought me through the hard times. God bless you.Joyce

  15. I love the birds! It reminds me of St. Ignatius saying “God is present in ALL things” he is surely present in that swarm of birds. How beautiful. Even in the times when life is hard and doesn’t make sense, we can always find something that is God’s presence in our day. The sunrise, a gentle rain, a needed storm, a child’s smile, the hug of a friend, a blog from a former teacher, now friend. The possibilities are endless. We just need to be noticing!

  16. A friend recently lost her grandson (23 years old) to a tragic train accident. The whole family has been devasted. Your message and the song this AM were just what needed to be shared with her. Thank you!

  17. I pleaded for my son’s life when he was dying with cancer 5 years ago./ I was angry at God for not answering my prayers but I hope I ahve realized there was a reason for taking him, father of 7 children. I’m somewhat at peace now although I long to hear his vice daily. I’ve gotten over my anger & am trying to listen to what I’m suppose to do with this loss….I’m still here Lord waiting for your direction.

  18. Thank you Melanie for this reflection and song, so needed these days! I am continually asking God to help me understand this present struggle I am experiencing. What is He asking of me? I am still plugging along, trying to stay positive!
    Judith Anne

  19. For my best friend Marge who is facing blindness due to dry macular degeneration ..please pray for her she is such a fan of your writings in the “Living Faith..thank you Sister

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Blog Posts

Here’s another good book you might enjoy: The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. These two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and international spiritual leaders were also very close friends. In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu visited the Dalai Lama’s home in India to celebrate His Holiness’s 80th

A number of years ago I was struggling with someone, a co-worker who was about 15 years older than I was. I didn’t know him very well, but we rubbed shoulders at work from time to time. About once a month, for example, we were required to attend the same

Meet Sr. Melannie

Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

Subscribe to Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Upcoming Events

Finding God in the Ordinary and Amazing: An Afternoon with Sister Melannie

Sunday, May 19, 2024 – 1:30 – 4:00 Central – via zoom

Sponsored by the Portiuncula Center for Prayer – Frankfort, Illinois

Fee: Donation

For details visit: [email protected]

Weekend retreat at Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center, Pulaski, PA
October 11-13, 2024

October 11-13, 2024

Details to follow

Retreat with the Sisters of Loretto, Nerinx, KY
September 8-13, 2024

September 8-13, 2024

Details to follow

Retreat at Lial Renewal Center, Whitehouse, OH
August 11-18, 2024

August 11-18, 2024

Retreat at Heartland Center for Spirituality, Great Bend, KS
April 14-19, 2024

April 14-19, 2024

Details to follow