St. Augustine, in his Confessions, says to God: ‘Yet I do know that you cannot be overcome, while I am uncertain which temptations I can resist and which I cannot.’
At first glance this seems a rather scary thought, especially if I linger over the last part ‘I am uncertain which temptations I can resist and which I cannot’. Every day brings new challenges to my soul, every day I run the risk of failing myself and my God in giving in to these temptations. The legions of the enemy are ever vigilante and prowling to grab a foothold in my soul; I know this, deeply – so how do I hope to succeed. Precisely with the first part of St Augustine’s statement: ‘Yet I do know that you cannot be overcome’!
As sure as I am that ‘I am uncertain which temptations I can resist and which I cannot’ – I am that certain that God cannot be overcome – that He is always victorious. It is up to me to succeed against temptation because it is up to me to allow God in, allow His strength to strengthen me against these temptations. Whenever I fail it is because I am alone, I have pushed God to the side only to be overwhelmed by those temptations. When I allow God to be with me, to guide me, to pervade my very being I succeed – because we succeed.
Then why does it seem that every time I get to the point of allowing God to work within me; I end up pushing him away – only to go through the cycle again and again? Why can’t I learn from my experiences!?
‘Oh God come to my assistance; Lord make haste to help me’ is part of the opening of every office in the Liturgy of the Hours. It shows me that I am not unusual, that my ‘cycle of frustration’ isn’t unique to me; indeed, the whole Bible tells my story, which is everyone’s story. But the Bible also shows me that I have the answer in Jesus, and as the opening prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours points out – I can continually return to Him, who can’t be overcome, and ask for His help. So at every Hour I pray for forgiveness and for strength ‘Oh God come to my assistance; Lord make haste to help me’ with the confidence that He answers!