How to suffer like a Christian

posted in: Prayer and Virtue | 11

Tragic Situations


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.

Connie Rossini


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Hi, I'm a Catholic writer and homeschool mother of four boys. I practice Carmelite spirituality. Check out my Books page for publications to help your whole family grow in holiness.

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11 Responses

  1. Leslie Lynch

    Powerful thoughts, Connie, and a wonderful new way to look at suffering, at least on my part. Thank you for sharing your insights. 🙂

    • Connie Rossini

      Thanks, Leslie. I know that most of my life I was of the stoic mindset. That didn’t help me trust; it eventually led me closer to despair when I saw all the suffering in the world. I’m thankful that now I feel free both to grieve when necessary, and to surrender my pain to God.

  2. Theresa

    I needed this today Connie…see how quickly I forgot what I just read in your book? Unfortunately, I am wallowing in my suffering today and am having a hard time getting out of the muck. I am having a difficult time saying *Jesus, I trust in you*. Some days it’s hard to do that because it seems that He is not hearing my prayers.

    So, I know I have to make an effort today and thank you again for this post.

    ~ Blessings ~

    • Connie Rossini

      You’re welcome, Theresa. Prayers. I think of the time when He seemed least likely to be hearing me–when I had that awful experience with the Twin Cities Church of Christ. even though He seemed impossibly far away, I know now that He was there with me. As He is for you.

  3. Abbey

    Hi Connie: Once again, I’m so glad I found your blog: St Therese tutors me through you!

    I have written before about the loss of my son: right before the relapse of his cancer, I read Abandonment to Divine Providence. I resolved to not complain about our situation but trust in God. I grieved about him having cancer and then his death, but not to the extent one would expect, because hey, I wasn’t going to complain but trust in God instead. (And a lot of the lack of grief after his death is because I am joyful that one who was given to me is now part of the communion of the saints, but that’s a digression.)

    I had been meditating on the scene of the Gospel when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. “Jesus wept.” He wasn’t complaining or not submitting to the will of His Heavenly Father, but His sorrow over that situation caused him to weep. His heart was vulnerable and He felt grief.

    I have been remembering the events of this time last year (when we really did reach the end of treatment and my son was so fragile), and trusting God more than I did before: I am allowing my heart to become vulnerable while I remember, and I’m feeling a lot of sorrow and grief. I still don’t complain (as I write this, I smell the scent of my son! I haven’t smelled it in a while – he’s with me), because I don’t feel the need to. But I do think that I’m trusting God more than before: trusting that He’ll carry me through this grief, rather than me needing a certain toughness of heart to be okay.

    God bless you and your writing.

  4. marythedefender

    Thank you! I really needed this! My brother took his life last April. I’very been worrying that I haven’t been carrying my cross well. It’s comforting to know that being weak and sorrowfull is okay! Thank you again! God Bless!

    • Connie Rossini

      You’re so welcome! God be with you in your sorrow. I am sure that even the saints would have suffered greatly in such a situation as yours. Just remember that Jesus carries that cross with you.

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