The sun no sooner rises than it shines; the fire is no sooner kindled than it burns; so grace acts as soon as the soul cooperates. –Bishop Fulton Sheen

As soon as the soul cooperates.

That's the problem I have sometimes, especially over the past three months while I struggled with constant (seems like it anyway) fatigue and morning sickness (and night sickness, and noon sickness!). So many times in the past three months I begged God for grace and felt little or no consolation. Looking back, I think it was at those times that I just didn't allow my soul to receive grace, because I subconsciously wanted to spiritually pout and feel sorry for myself.

And yet, there were many times over the past three months I did truly abandon myself to God's grace, times when I felt the peace, joy and consolation of the Lord.

I have some special friends and family members who have been through trials I pray I will never have to go through. These loved ones have gone through their trials with the most beautiful, honest, supernatural grace I have ever seen.

Talk about whole-heartedly abandoning yourself to grace.

Talk about trusting that "all things work for good for those who love the Lord..." (Rom 8:28).

My friend Betsy gave a phenomenal talk to my parish's Life Teen group last Sunday on the topic of grace and suffering. Among several important points she focused on was this: It's often in suffering that we are drawn closer to God, because it's in suffering that we finally realize how much we need Him and His grace.

I feel pretty wimpy for admitting this (considering the noble company I keep in writing alongside so many mothers on with much larger families!), but I'll be honest: I had a really tough time during the worst of my pregnancy sickness in February, and it was literally by the grace of God that I was able to be a (semi) functional wife and mother to my family during that time.

As I finally come out of the worst of my early pregnancy morning sickness, I find that I am actually thankful for the spiritual and personal challenges I faced this spring. I am closer to God because of it.

For example, the first thing to go when I was sick was my morning offering and daily prayer time. And everything else in my life suffered for it. Now that I am working that consistent, daily time in prayer back into my life, everything in my life is noticeably better for it.

May God bless me with many other times in my life that will draw me closer to Him. And may my prayer be for sincerity to make my soul cooperate with God's grace. For He surely pours His grace on us when we ask Him for it!

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

-Matthew 7:9-11

Copyright 2011 Erin Franco