“In the world, you will have hardship” (John 16:33). That’s a statement from Jesus, our loving Savior. So we shouldn’t be surprised that we suffer. We should expect it.
Poor Job described it so well “my eyes will never see joy”(Job 7:7).
We need not look far to stare suffering in the eye, and many times we only need a mirror. Suffering is a part of this life.
We see suffering in the eyes of the mother of a stillborn, the father of an addict, the scared abandoned child, the broken-hearted widow, the exhausted young mother, and the depressed single father. The eyes of the undisclosed addict, the wounded adulteress, the rejected hungry beggar, and the scoffed at Christian all tell a different story. The eyes of the tormented of obsessive thoughts, the pregnant teenager, the nursing home ridden elder, the stunned family of a house fire, and the cancer patient all mirror a similarity. The eyes of the worried mother, the misunderstood son, the secret porn addict, the emotional teenager, the diabetic, the lonely husband, and the pain-ridden elderly all have suffering in common. All of us, every single one has some sort of suffering.
Something that has always been a place of comfort to me is to offer this suffering to Jesus. This mystical way of willingly offering our suffering is to share in the suffering of our Lord. We must carry our own crosses in this life. It’s ok if we stumble under the weight; our own Lord stumbled under his cross. Much redemption comes from suffering. The saints loved suffering.
They have left us with many writings to encourage us on this journey:
It is You Jesus, stretched out on the cross, who gives me strength and are always close to the suffering soul. Creatures will abandon a person in his suffering, but You, O Lord are faithful. (1508) – St. Faustina
When it is all over you will not regret having suffered; rather you will regret having suffered so little, and suffered that little so badly. – St. Sebastian Valfre
Trials are sent to some so as to take away past sins, to others so as to eradicate sins now being committed, and to yet others so as to forestall sins which may be committed in the future. These are distinct from the trials that arise in order to test men in the way that Job was tested. – St. Maximos the Confessor
In suffering love and in loving, suffer! – Blessed Maria Lopez of Jesus
We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials. – St. Teresa of Avila
We should strive to keep our hearts open to the sufferings and wretchedness of other people and pray continually that God may grant us that spirit of compassion which is truly the spirit of God. – Saint Vincent de Paul
He longs to give us a magnificent reward. He knows that suffering is the only means of preparing us to know Him as He knows Himself, and to become ourselves divine. – St. Therese of Lisieux
We Find Suffering in Scripture
2 Corinthians 1:5 – For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow into our lives; so too does the encouragement we receive through Christ.
Philippians 3:8-10 – Yes, I will go further: because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, I count everything else as loss. For him I have accepted the loss of all other things, and look on them all as filth if only I can gain Christ and be given a place in him, with the uprightness I have gained not from the Law, but through faith in Christ, an uprightness from God, based on faith, that I may come to know him and the power of his resurrection, and partake of his sufferings by being moulded to the pattern of his death, striving towards the goal of resurrection from the dead.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – Wherefore, so that I should not get above myself, I was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to batter me and prevent me from getting above myself. About this, I have three times pleaded with the Lord that it might leave me; but he has answered me, ‘My grace is enough for you: for power is at full stretch in weakness.’It is, then, about my weaknesses that I am happiest of all to boast, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me; and that is why I am glad of weaknesses, insults, constraints, persecutions, and distress for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong.
Romans 2:3 – 5 Not only that; let us exult, too, in our hardships, understanding that hardship develops perseverance, and perseverance develops a tested character, something that gives us hope, and a hope which will not let us down, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.
1 Peter 5 – Keep sober and alert, because your enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that it is the same kind of suffering that the community of your brothers throughout the world is undergoing. You will have to suffer only for a little while: the God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ will restore you, he will confirm, strengthen and support you. His power lasts forever and ever. Amen.
It is easier to look back on suffering than to walk through it. It is without a doubt where we grow and change. It is without a doubt a part of every human in this walk of life. It is in moments of raw suffering that we are able to put these scripture passages and saintly words into action. It is in times when we hurt that we are becoming more like Christ. We are learning to pull ourselves through the suffering and are better able to lend a hand to help others through the suffering.
Jesus also said, “but be courageous, I have conquered the world.” So we have hope in our suffering. We should expect it, but we will not be defeated by it.
Job’s life was transformed into something wonderful that stands as a testament to suffering for all of us.
We have the loving option to reach to our loving Jesus. We have the option to let His grace shine on us. We have the option to let this suffering change us and help us to be more Christ-like.
Today we will suffer, but tomorrow we look with hope to be with our loving Lord.
So today, let us suffer well.