I 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