The fear of suffering
My God, although my sufferings are great and protracted, I accept them from Your hands as magnificent gifts. I accept them all, even the ones that other souls have refused to accept. You can come to me with everything, my Jesus; I will refuse You nothing. I ask You for only one thing: give me the strength to endure them and grant that they may be meritorious. Here is my whole being; do with me as You please—Faustina’s Diary 795
I find saints hard to understand on an emotional level. They have a knack for shining a light into the heart of our lives in ways that are uncomfortable; at least for me. Joy, pleasure, and happiness, are not problems. We experience them, some think about them and are even thankful. Usually, however, good days are enjoyed, not thought about. We are soothed by effortless enjoyment and there is often very little need to think about it.
The saints, from all faith paths, know that the central challenge of life is how we deal with others when things do not go our way. Or when life is a burden and wearisome, or filled with ill health and physical pain. It is then that our faith is challenged and we are very aware of ourselves; there is no lulling ourselves to sleep. I do believe that Sr. Faustina did not enjoy her suffering for she prayed for the strength to endure it. Yet because of her faith, she understood on a deep level what St. Paul talked about how our sorrows make up for the sufferings lacking in Christ Jesus.
Suffering is so much a part of our lives, I can’t imagine what it would be like without it. St. John Paul ll, stated, that suffering is an integral part of being human. Something everyone knows but can lead to seeking to find the impossible, which is a way to escape suffering on all levels.
I can say one thing for sure: ‘Sex, drugs and rock and roll” is not the answer. Neither is power, or wealth, nor having everything go our way. Being spoiled would to be like living in a boat on a sea that has no waves, or wind, or clouds or storms. Just flatness. Which is paradoxically, one of the greatest sources of suffering for mankind. The play “Waiting for Godot” covers that pretty much.
As a Christian, my union with Christ Jesus is deeply intimate. Or let us say, Christians, are aware of God’s intimacy with them in a special way. Other faith paths have other ways of dealing with suffering that can lead to deep compassion and holiness. However, Christianity, with its understanding of ‘Agape’ shows something unique. The term “God with us”, covers it I believe. Christ Jesus suffers in all, that is the nature of ‘Agape’, of any love actually that is not based on some form of control or a need so deep the so called ‘beloved’ is just an object to be used to fill in some inner void. God’s love, “Agape”, flows not from need, but from an infinite fullness that overflows towards all of creation, and especially towards those capable of having a loving, conscious, relationship.
To embrace suffering (not enjoy), to unite oneself to Christ Jesus, truly leads one to experience, if not to understand, what Christ meant when he said “His burden is light”. It is love that makes the difference. Suffering often forces us inward in ways that are unhealthy and destructive. To unite oneself with Christ, is to allow suffering to make ones heart open to all others who suffer as well, and to see Christ Jesus in them.
Within the human heart,
with all of its intricate workings,
God truly tabernacles,
his love embraces all
and suffers with all,
for that is what
“God with us”