What a question, right?
In the Gospel reading from Sunday, Jesus said to His disciples:
“Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
I’ve heard it said before, and I’ve probably said it, too, that Jesus could not avoid the Cross — and neither can we.
Because it”s necessary.
Necessary for our Salvation. For our Redemption.
For our Healing. For our Sanctification.
You see, though, the good news is that the story of our crosses does not end with our crosses. It does not end with our carrying them and our suffering. The story goes on, and it does so because the Writer of our story makes our crosses glorious. On the other side of our crosses is new life!
“How precious the gift of the cross, how splendid to contemplate! In the cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste. The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light. This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return.”
– St. Theodore the Studite
Jesus can and does use our sufferings, and our crosses, to shape us more into the holy women he wants us to become.
Sometimes He uses our illnesses, our weaknesses. Sometimes He uses our times of uncertainty, of unemployment. Sometimes He uses our dying to ourselves. Scratch that. He always uses that. Or, He can…
Whatever our cross is on any given day, though, He uses it for something — when we offer it to Him as Jesus did.
That’s the catch. We have to willingly give it to Him. Not begrudgingly. Not resistantly. But willingly (lovingly).
I hadn’t thought much about this very line — the, “Was it Not Necessary?” question — in Luke’s Gospel until last year when a speaker for our online retreat gave a talk about it. And when I heard it read this Sunday, this talk popped into my mind and so I thought it would be a great time to re-visit it. This has been one of my favorite talks from all of our online retreats.
You can watch it here:
Jesus said to those disciples. “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”… Essentially, Jesus asks, “Was it not necessary?” As hard as it may be, can you begin to understand how God may have allowed certain things to play out in your life because it was necessary — necessary to shape you into the person you were created to become, necessary to bring you closer to Jesus, necessary to sanctify you?”
There’s definitely a part of me that wants to tell you flat-out with no hesitation that I could have become the woman I am today without all the suffering that lies behind me. But that wouldn’t be the truth. 🙂
The suffering I’ve endured of physical illness — chronic illness, among other things I don’t write much about here, has impacted me. It has changed me. It has made an imprint on my heart and in my mind. And while there were many, many times that I did not see how this suffering could have possibly been a gift from God, I see now, in retrospect (thanks, Holy Spirit!) how it has been.
I see now how the fires of this suffering have purified me — separated what I thought I wanted or needed from what I know I need (Him, always Him). This suffering has lifted me up to God (where I needed to be), brought more healing than I thought possible from an illness itself (ironic, right?), and did exactly what was necessary… for me to become the woman I am today.
I’m praying that you are also able to look back today and see how God has done the same for you.
And if you’re not quite there yet, I’m praying that God gives you the strength to keep walking forward until that place when you can look back and see how He used this time for some good.
If you’re looking for a great read on suffering, I highly recommend this one by Mother Angelica:
“Mother Angelica provides consolation and advice that only a spiritual mother can provide, helping you to understand the purpose of suffering, how it can be redemptive, and when to know you re allowing your suffering to go to waste.”
I saw another Catholic blogger — Lydia, I think, over at Flourish in Hope, reading it and sharing quotes from it, and that’s when it caught my eye.
Mother Angelica also had a thing for novenas, soooo I think I need to get to know her a little bit before 😉
“Sometimes my worst day – one filled with pain and suffering – in the eyes of God, is my best day if I’ve born it cheerfully and I’ve born it with love.” – Mother Angelica
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