There’s a lot of suffering going on right now — maybe you’re suffering, maybe your family is suffering or maybe your neighbors are.
It seems that suffering is an inevitable experience of being a Christian — of being human.
It’s also invaluable…
Although, that’s not so easy to say.
I suffer. Everyone suffers. It’s hard to tell someone, especially yourself — especially when you’re suffering, that it’s an invaluable experience… but it is!
I’ve been reading a lot about redemptive suffering lately.
Father John Riccardo recently described it so beautifully in a podcast.
“One of the key words in the Christian life is to ‘participate’ or to ‘cooperate with,” he said. “There’s one redeemer. His name is Jesus, and yet He wants you and me to participate with Him in the work of redemption. We do that in a particular way when we suffer. That’s why I’m of the opinion that no one’s prayers are more powerful than the prayers of somebody who suffers, because they’re being conformed to Christ.”
Isn’t that incredible? “No one’s prayers are more powerful than the prayers of somebody who suffers.“
I’ve struggled, as I’m sure many people have, to feel like I can serve some greater good or purpose while I’m suffering.
I find it hardest to love and serve – freely, unconditionally, selflessly – when I’m suffering. But I know it’s important to try, because from what I can gather, it matters a lot more to God how we suffer than the fact that we do suffer.
Do we allow our suffering to change us, to transform us?
Ultimately, it does.
One of the greatest challenges of suffering is thinking you’re useless, and asking, “What good am I?”
Father Riccardo answers that question so well.
“Well, here’s what good you are,” he says, “You’re participating with the Lord in the work of redeeming the human race. You are not wasting away here. He is inviting you to share in his cross. Is it romantic? No. Is it fun? No. Will you see the payoff of it here? No, at least probably not. But one day you’ll see it.’”
The sick, suffering and dying have dignity and purpose — and this is it: to pray and participate with God in the work of redeeming the human race.
This is something I think we can all be reminded of a little more.
Suffering or not, we all have bad days, and we can all “offer it up.”
You can click through to Fr. Riccardo’s podcast here.
Photo Credit: More Good Foundation.