Suffering

How often have we had an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness and abandonment, of physical and emotional pain, which has driven us to sincerely cry out to God? Have we con-sidered that this is a genuine act of faith and trust which asks where God is in our suffering and an acknowledgement of God’s desire to heal us and our invitation to do so.

An invitation is all God wants. The extension of this invitation changes lives in ways we can never imagine. It doesn’t involve a pain free existence, but a deeper understanding of what it means to live the paschal mystery of Christ – that is, his life, death, and resurrection. It in-volves a personal commitment to a lifelong process of personal conversion and a universal sharing in the Christ’s salvific mission for the world.

The crosses we encounter in our lives are not obstacles as much as they are opportunities for transformation and for healing in ways that go beyond our present difficulties. “Enduring struggle is the price to be paid for becoming everything we are meant to be in the world,” says Sr. Joan Chittister, O.S.B.

Pain, toil, sorrow, disease, and death are realities for each of us – part of the human experi-ence. However, they are not proof of God’s punishment or absence. Rather, they are signs that lead open hearts to reconciliation and deeper joy than anything this broken world offers. As C.S. Lewis noted, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Yet the cross holds an even deeper mystery of God’s healing love. It is not one that provides answers so much as it beckons us to faithfully live the questions as we discover more fully who we are meant to be, our relationship with God and with one another.

“There is a vocation for suffering with Christ, and through it the possibility of being involved in his salvation. Christ continues to live and suffer in his members. The suffering experienced through union with the Lord is suffering, and is a fruitful part of the great plan of salvation.” Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross).

Mary Anne Penner

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