“Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, He is able to help those who are being tested.” Hebrews 2: 18
I don’t know about you, but I know quite a few people – really good people – who are suffering right now. For some, it’s physical illness, for others mental stress – still for others it’s a spiritual dryness or emptiness. I try to be faithful to praying for those who ask for my prayers. It is difficult to persevere in prayer and continue to Trust in God when the suffering persists, but what choice do we have? We either give into despair (which is not of God), or we hold onto hope and the promises given to us by Christ.
Today’s 2nd reading from Paul to the Hebrews reminds us of a very important truth. Because Jesus was tested and suffered so greatly for our redemption, He can be counted on to console those who are being tested – those who suffer, too. He can help us to carry our crosses – no matter how heavy they may be. He is God! Nothing is too insurmountable or immense for Him. Our God loved us so much that He became like us, experiencing all of the pain to which a human can be subjected. Who better to turn to when we are suffering than the One who has truly been there, done that!?
One thing that we can be sure of in this life is that everything changes. If you are miserable, there is good news. You can be assured that it will not last forever. (I’m really counting on this in regard to my new, wonderful hot flashes!!) If you are on top of the world, bad news – neither will this last forever.
One of the things I love about being Catholic is the teaching of redemptive suffering:
“Redemptive suffering is any trial or tribulation (physical or mental) we offer up and UNITE to Jesus- as a “gift” to Him to express our love thru a costly way, in exchange for some other good. Notice the key elements: we consciously choose embrace suffering; it is precious (a “gift”) because it is painful (not fun or “easy”); it brings us closer to Jesus in an intimate and intense way; and the suffering may “spiritually repair” my own soul or others-and thereby help in the work of redemption (Christ’s allowing me to help Him save souls).” Jim Fritz, www.thedefender.org/RedemptiveSuffering.html
We must never waste any ache, pain or trial. Give it to Jesus as a gift. He can use it to mold us, or to save another soul. The implications are not temporal but eternal! Now that’s something to rejoice about! Here are a couple of comforting scripture quotes about suffering:
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
“Therefore we are not discouraged, rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (II Cor 4: 16).
Pope John Paul II gave the world such a beautiful example of how to handle suffering. If you have not seen his movie starring John Voigt, I highly recommend it. Despite his many, many trials, he lived a faithful life filled with hope and joy in the Lord. His life was a powerful witness to God’s grace.
If you are currently suffering, know that you are not alone. Hold onto hope. Offer your suffering to Jesus as a gift. Know that this too shall eventually pass. Be patient with yourself. Ask Jesus, and the Blessed Mother for the grace needed to persevere. Try to focus on the hour at hand – and not the “what ifs” that cause you to fret about tomorrow. The Lord gives us grace for the present moment – not for what may or may not happen in the future. A very wise woman once said, “Keep your face to the sun and you cannot see the shadow.” (Helen Keller) I say, “Keep your face to the Son, and you cannot see the shadow!”