Suffering. Ever since the Fall of Adam, it’s an unavoidable part of life. We suffer daily in little ways. The alarm clock rings too early. We spill coffee all over our work clothes. The kids are disobedient. We get stuck in traffic. These little things are a reminder that all is not right with the world. Something is out of whack. We have lost the close connection with God we were meant to have.
When we face small trials, we have an opportunity to grow in trust and love. We can offer our disappointments and dislikes to God in love, asking Him to use them to bring others to Him. We can say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” praying that He helps us to accept His sovereignty over our day. Because after all, we were never meant to be in charge of our life. These gentle reminders of that fact can help us reorient ourselves towards God. (As an aside, I am experiencing a little annoyance right now from my kids. Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to put into practice what I am preaching!)
What about tragedies?
Every day on FaceBook, someone asks me for prayers. Sometimes, a loved one is seriously ill. Other times, a FaceBook friend faces clinical depression. Prayers for difficult pregnancies and comfort while burying infants or dealing with miscarriage are common.
How should a Christian face tragic suffering?
Sometimes we have the idea that being a Christian means being a stoic. We try to act like everything is okay. We think that sorrow itself is ungodly. We think an aversion to suffering shows a lack of trust.
Here is a quote about St. Therese from my book:
“Therese was not afraid to be weak, even in her sorrow. She saw no shame in admitting that she was grieving and suffering. ‘Therese reread what Father Pichon had taught during the retreat [before Marie’s profession] in 1887. To suffer according to the heart of God, one need not suffer with courage like a hero. It is enough to suffer as Jesus did at Gethsemane’ ” (Therese and Lisieux, Pierre Descouvement, 148).
How did Jesus suffer in Gethsemane? He sweated blood. He repeatedly begged God to remove His suffering. He asked for others to be near Him and pray. And He said, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
We can’t escape suffering. Although it is natural to desire to, because man was created for joy, not grief, running away from suffering is running away from the Cross of Christ.
So, go ahead and cry. Pray your heart out. Ask others to pray with you. Beg God to help you. Don’t wallow in your suffering, making it, rather than God, the focus of your life. But don’t worry about being a hero. Your life is difficult enough already.
Pray, “Your will be done.” Accept your suffering, if God does not remove it. Accept the death of someone or something that you loved. And cling to true hope of resurrection.