Emilia Clarke is probably most well-known for her role as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, who transformed from a timid character following the commands of her brother in season one, into a mother of dragons and queen of armies over eight seasons of the fantasy drama television series.
On a more personal front, she recently revealed having suffered two life-threatening brain aneurysms during the early days of Game of Thrones, which left her feeling an immense amount of pain in her brain; an acute constricting pain that kept getting worse. Emilia experienced bleeding in the brain and discovered that she was suffering from Aphasia, that affected her ability to even recall her own name.
What would your response be, if you were faced with a trial of such magnitude? Wouldn’t the most natural response be to drown in despair and give up on the future that now seem to be crashing in on you?
Such was the case for Emilia. She experienced great fear, and felt like her life was no longer worth living. After all, how was she to fulfil her passion for acting if she could not even recall her name? However, she did not allow her illness to determine the way she was going to lead her life. Emilia did not allow her trial to overwhelm her with hopelessness, but fought through the illness courageously while persevering through the pursuit of her passion.
“Every day I would fight my own demons of thinking, ‘You’re sick, you can’t do this. You’re tired, give in. Stop.’ I just bulldozed through.”
Perhaps you can resonate with Emilia’s battle with a debilitating illness, or perhaps your battle is the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or a broken relationship. Perhaps these are causing a sense of hopelessness within you right now, as though there’s nothing else for you to look forward to in life. Everything is coming to a stand still and there just seems to be no way for you to move on with faith in the light at the end of the tunnel. It is so easy to buy into the lie that the devil presents to us in these moments – “You are alone in this. There is no hope for you.” We begin to spiral in despondency and misery, believing that these mountains in our view are greater than what God can handle. It just seems impossible for Him to right this wrong in our life.
How can we get ourselves out of the pit and rise above these challenges? Could it really be possible for us to emerge from these situations that seek to weigh our spirits down, with joy and hope in the Lord?
In Psalm 40:1-3, it says
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”
The truth is that the Lord hears our every cry and is intricately desirous to raise us up from the dump that we find ourselves in. We need to continue to fight on in the face of trials and difficulties, resisting the temptation to be consumed by the huge mountains that are before us.
If you’re reading this and finding it too far-fetched and impossible, look to Mary. Our Mother watched her son put through suffering like no other and crucified on the cross. Her suffering must have been insurmountable as she watched helplessly. Still, in her suffering, she continued to hope in God, believing in His divine plan. Our Mother shows us what it means to trust in God even when things seem to be stacked against us.
Like Mary, we need to cast our eyes on God who is bigger than the mountains and who control the lands and seas. Do not give in to the devil’s lures that seek to draw us away from Christ the living water, into the valley of sorrow and grief. The evil one desires to rob us of the happiness and fullness of life that we can find in Christ when we live in light of His Resurrection even in the face of deep trial.
Let us face our challenges with a spirit of joy and faith in Him.
As St Francis says,
“The demons can do nothing against a servant of Christ whom they find filled with holy gladness; whereas a dejected, morose and depressed soul easily lets itself be submerged in sorrow or captured by false pleasures.”
May our response to trial not be one of fear and despair, but one of hope and holy gladness! Begin by inviting the Lord into these trials, asking Him to grant you His strength and spirit of fortitude and joy, so that you may face your own ‘demons’ with courage, determination, hope, and faith in Him. Let us rest in Christ who is our security and hope as we face these mountains before us. May the joy of our Risen Lord who conquered sin and death remain with us and be our source of strength! Dear Mother, be our faithful guide towards your son, Jesus Christ!