Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Suffering Is a Gift: Suffering Is an Able Aide

When it comes to assisting us on our journey toward Heaven, there is no more able aide than Suffering.  She teaches us detachment from worldly goods, but also helps us to discover strengths we did not know we possessed. She detaches us from fear, and allows us to leap boldly across obstacles that would daunt lesser men.  She drives us forward, encouraging us to achieve greater things than we thought ourselves capable of achieving. If we endure what Suffering can bring upon us, we are empowered to know that we can achieve anything if we will but keep trying.

A man who has been homeless and then finds himself owning a home does not trust in the home for his security.  He knows that the home can be gone in an instant, and trusts that he is capable of finding a way through life even without it.  A man who has always had a home and suddenly finds himself homeless, though, may begin to despair and lose hope of life improving because he imagines his security to be dependent upon the having of a home.  A child who has grown up in poverty and then makes their way in the world to success knows that poverty is just a temporary thing, something one is not consigned to live through forever but that can be overcome and so has no reason to fear poverty.  A child who grows up in wealth and privilege can imagine nothing worse than poverty, and believes that money is their security.  When that child suddenly finds himself without money, he loses hope and is given to despair because he does not see how he can ever make it.

Fearlessness and detachment from worldly things are absolutely required if one is to safely travel that narrow way to Heaven. Fear of losing worldly goods, fear of losing the respect and regard of others, fear of being deprived, these fears will all keep a soul trapped and unable to continue until they are ready to shed them.  It is Suffering who encourages them to give up these fears so that they can move forward. Along the narrow way, there are many places where the road seems to disappear, or where there are gaps so that one must take leaps of faith without knowing exactly what is waiting on the other side. At times, the road becomes so narrow and steep that there is simply no room for anything extra. When the way grows more difficult and uncertain, the one who has embraced Suffering and made her a friend will recognize the challenge and rise to the occasion.

Suffering also humbles us, forcing us to see and to acknowledge our faults and limitations. We learn to accept that we do not have what it takes to make this journey on our own.  We learn to seek help, and to give it to others when we see them struggling.  We learn to turn to those whose feet have successfully traveled the road before us for encouragement and advice.  We learn, too, that we will fall down many times but that God does not count how many times we fall down - only the number of times that we fail to rise again.

Suffering also teaches us gratitude.  We learn to be appreciative of the times when we have plenty, even as we accept that those times may be fleeting. We learn to be grateful for the small things, for the times when the path we travel is downhill and easy to see.  We learn to be grateful for the help and kindness of others, and to be more appreciative of others strengths.  The more we allow Suffering to be our tutor, the more our eyes are opened to the many good things which help us to get through the unpleasant things in life.

If God gives you an abundant harvest of trials, it is a sign of great holiness which He desires you to attain. Do you want to become a great saint? Ask God to send you many sufferings. The flame of Divine Love never rises higher than when fed with the wood of the Cross, which the infinite charity of the Savior used to finish His sacrifice. All the pleasures of the world are nothing compared with the sweetness found in the gall and vinegar offered to Jesus Christ. That is, hard and painful things endured for Jesus Christ and with Jesus Christ. --Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Popular Posts