“Embrace the suffering!” Are you kidding me??? I live in a world where we work to keep people “comfortable”. “I have a headache!” I’ll take some medicine to ease the pain. “This topic makes me uncomfortable!” We shouldn’t talk about it then…we certainly want you to feel comfortable and safe! Heck there is a term in the medical field called “comfort care”. We do everything in our power to make sure people feel comfortable. We are a society that HATES suffering and most of us run from it at all costs.
I was in my 20’ before I heard the term redemptive suffering! Yes, that is correct, I went to twelve years of Catholic School and got a bachelor’s degree in theology, and I never heard the term redemptive suffering. I didn’t have a single teacher that spoke to me about the beautiful gift that suffering can be. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties when I heard a national Catholic speaker talk about the beauty of embracing suffering. This notion changed my life. I began to think of suffering as a gift, yes, let me repeat that, a GIFT!!! I had no idea that my pain and suffering could be helpful to my sanctity, and even be helpful to other souls.
How often have I heard and even said, “This pain is not God’s will!” How foolish and ignorant of me. Now don’t get me wrong, God is not a masochist and He doesn’t like to see us suffer, but He also doesn’t tell us that following Him will be a life free of suffering. He DOES tell us we must “take up our cross and follow Him!” (Matthew 16:26) This confirms us we WILL have crosses and because of that we will have pain and suffering.
As a parent I am always wanting to shield my children from any pain they may encounter. I’d much rather be the one to suffer than to watch my babies suffer. However, the greater gift that I can give them is to let them know that I love them and support them, but they need to depend on Christ to help them carry their crosses. This is the example of our Lord, he never promised a life free of suffering, but he did promise He would NEVER leave us and my children must know that I will never leave them either. Suffering will always be part of their lives and Dan and I must do our best to prepare them for even greater sufferings they will have as they continue to age.
I have seen suffering in my life, we all have! Nobody is immune to a life free from suffering. Jesus tried to help prepare us for that in His ministry. He told us that there will be crosses, there will be crucifixions, but it is what comes after that matters…those moments of resurrection. So, as I ponder my current sufferings of not being able to unite and complete our adoption, I need to remember that right now the crucifixion is happening…but I also must trust that after the crucifixion I am promised a beautiful resurrection…I cannot wait for that moment. However, in the meantime, I can offer the pain and suffering I feel to the aide of poor souls in purgatory by giving them to Mary and asking her to use the merits of my suffering for whatever she feels is best. I can trust that Mary, our mother, will not let my suffering be in vein.
So yes, I am telling you to embrace the suffering. It will not feel great in the moment, but the merits of that suffering, though not able to be understood in this life, are greater than we can ever imagine. How awesome that we can give such a beautiful gift to others…and live in the hope of our moments of resurrection…that sweet, sweet resurrection!