Suffering: Not Why, But Where?

woman try to grab the sunI recently asked a woman what I could pray for, for her, and her response was incredible. She asked me to pray for her to suffer with Christ — to suffer well, and that her suffering may be used to bring her loved ones closer to Him.

I didn’t know that she was suffering. But if I did, I would probably have thought to pray for her — that she might be relieved of that suffering, that her burdens would become lighter.

And yet, instead of asking for relief, she asked for the graces to suffer well — so that she may be united with Christ on the Cross.

It reminds me of the faith of the saints, who have suffered so much — and so well.

I know that all suffering has meaning, and I know that all suffering can be transformative when placed in the hands of God.  But my first instinct when I am suffering has been to always ask, “Why?”and then quickly follow it up with, “Please relieve me from this.”

And so this woman’s request really inspired me. Instead of asking God why she was suffering, she wanted God to know that she would do it for Him — that He may use it for His glory.

She must have been inspired by St. Therese, who said, “It’s true, I suffer a great deal–but do I suffer well?” 

We are called to do everything we do for His glory.

But suffering for it? I wish we could all avoid it… but Christ could not avoid the Cross, and neither can we.

I think it’s a human inclination to ask, “Why?” when we’re faced with great suffering.

But Managing Editor of America Magazine Kerry Walsh gives us a better question to ask… 

“Sometimes the more helpful (question) is this: Where? Where am I being called by this suffering? Where can I find a supportive community? Where is God in all of this?”

We have to persevere.

She writes, “In the Letter of James, we read, ‘Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.’

That isn’t easy, I know.

Suffering is complicated. But it is also so meaningful in the eyes of our Lord.

Saint Maria Faustina wrote in her diary that God told her, “If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering.”

Since, “we love only to the degree that we are willing to suffer,” we have to allow ourselves to accept the suffering & to offer it back to God for His Glory, for His love, for His people, for you — and for me.

photo credit: David Paul Ohmer

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  • I love that quote by Saint Maria Faustina: “If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering.”

  • Jeffrey Schuller

    Pray the Rosary for World Peace and wear the Scapular for Personal Peace because you cannot give what you do not have.


  • Nicole Kramer

    I cannot even tell you how fruitful this has been for me to read on this particular day. Thank you!

    • catholicwifecatholiclife

      Thank you for letting me know that, Nicole!! 🙂 It certainly brightened my day! And it’s been pretty bleak today, so I’m glad this helped you!

  • Amy

    This is what I love about what the Catholic Church teaches–our suffering is not pointless. We can do something with it.

    • catholicwifecatholiclife

      Agreed! Honestly, if we didn’t have our faith like this… we’d be SO lost, feeling so hopeless…

  • Lis F Munoz

    Wow!! I so needed this!! I’ve been suffering with chronic migraines, chronic sinusitis, aneurysm, cyst, asthma, etc. Now visiting a cardiologist and my daughter is disabled. Felt like I had a full plate! Been trying to be strong and positive, told my family that if Jesus had to suffer who am I not to. But still, I was missing a huge point. Wasn’t suffering well and with a good purpose. I accepted it but wasn’t doing anything with it.
    Thank you for teaching me and guiding me. As of today I offer my illnesses to our Lord for my family, especially my son who seems lost during his now teenage years.

    • Lis, that’s absolutely beautiful!!! Trust me, I also tend to miss that point and to suffer poorly… but always trying to be better, always trying to do His will; that’s all we can do!