It seems to me that much of the things we care for most depends on stamina, the power to see it through. No one escapes situations where all of his or her chances for positive creative living depend not only upon what he or she can do, but upon what he or she can stand – whether they throw in the towel or see it through. Take for example Handel before he wrote The Messiah. One of his biographies said of him, “His health and his fortunes had reached the lowest ebb. His right side had become paralyzed, and his money was all gone. His creditors seized him and threatened him with imprisonment. For a brief time he was tempted to give up the fight, but then he rebounded again to compose the greatest of his inspirations, the epic Messiah.” So whether or not that “Hallelujah Chorus” was ever to be written hung in the balance, teetered on the thin edge of despair. Then from somewhere Handel found the power to see it through; what he could do depended upon what he could stand.

That kind of story has been repeated many times over. We take it for granted that we would like to share in such stamina. Our instinctive admiration goes out to those who have the power to see it through. So what then goes on in the lives of those who have it?

For one thing, we must certainly begin by tackling ourselves. No one is prepared to tackle a difficult situation until first of all he faces himself honestly and is willing to tackle himself.

Many people blame the world at large for their collapse, when the real trouble is within oneself. What the world can do to us is largely determined by what lies at the very center of our life. If a man is primarily after wealth, then the world can whip him. If he or she is primarily after ease and comfort, then the world can utterly defeat him or her. But if above all else a person wants to be a Christian in the highest sense of the word, then he can capitalize on almost anything that happens to him. The great persons down the ages have had their power called out by the very troubles they faced.

You can be certain that such persons first needed to face themselves. They shifted the center of life to a place where adversity did not destroy them but made them better. And therein lies much of the secret of any person’s power to see it through.

But we also need to remember that the power to see it through is not so much something that a person does, as something that is done for a person. Jesus once prayed that God would sustain us in the face of adversity. What we need cannot be gained simple by wishing it.

The basic reason why men and women lie down on life instead of standing up to life is that within themselves they run out of power. The ability to see life through is a power question. And this power is not something we get nicely by wishing it. We must be willing to open ourselves to resources greater than our own. We need to seek that power from God as He provides it through the graces of the sacraments.

Life is a difficult business. To play it well takes stamina. Jesus knew that, and He provided it for us as a gift in the sacraments so that we might have the power always to see it through.