"Suffering is a great favor. Remember that everything soon comes to an end. . .
and take courage. Think of how our gain is eternal."St. Teresa of Avila
It's no surprise to every human being that there have been, is and will be struggles connected with this life. No one can magically become exempt from suffering. So it's real and it's everywhere. We know, we go through it and we see it.
Let's take a moment and realize that suffering is not bad in ways that we assume it to be. Sufferings can be offered up as sacrifice. Sacrifice can be offered up to God, because of His Son who paid the ultimate sacrifice. How beautiful it is that we are able to suffer, but suffer with meaning and suffering as to gain. Jesus did not come to suffer so that we may never know pain or spiritual drought on this earth, rather He came to show us how to suffer and for Whom. Yes - Jesus did come to defeat death and sin so that on this earth we may come to know, love and serve Our God and having within it eternal gain for all who seek Him. He came so that we may not suffer eternally the fires of hell. He came so that Scripture may be fulfilled with all scriptural prophesies. He came so that we may have hope once more. He came so that we may be able to know Love and to love Love in an extremely personal way.
It's okay to suffer! Get this - it's even acceptable to desire to suffer. Sooooooo many saints have stated how much suffering (for Christ) benefits one soul and even thousands of souls if you offer it up.
These are just quotes from some beautiful saints on suffering:
-"I desire to suffer always and not to die. I should add: this is not my will, it is my inclination. It is sweet to think of Jesus; but it is sweeter to do His will."
- Bl. Mary of Jesus Crucified
-"If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that He has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint."
- St. Ignatius Loyola
-"Blessed be he, Who came into the world for no other purpose than to suffer."
- St. Teresa of Avila
-"For Jesus Christ I am prepared to suffer still more."
- St. Maximilian Kolbe
-"If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love."
- St. Gemma Galgani
There are many more beautiful things said about suffering, but just with these that I have provided, I really ask that you take the time and come to try to understand where these people are coming from. All of these quotes are so powerful and I wish I could come to fully understand what is meant by all (God willing).
Some may come to ask, why do we have to suffer to love or even love to suffer? First, you don't have to do any of these things. It's a choice given to you to make. When you come to understand what love is, then you will know that the ultimate act of love was that act where Jesus hung there, sinless, for our sake. For Zoë's sins, He was crucified, so that Zoë may be able to live with Him in His Father's Kingdom. He died so that we may have life with Him! He suffered so that we may take courage and not to give up, to know that with suffering comes gain in ways unimaginable. That sacrifice is the epitome of love, and if that isn't LOVE then I honestly can't tell you why I stayed up past 4 am to write poorly about this topic.
Suffering for the sake of other's and for the sake of a greater cause can only indicate that you love what you are suffering for. That you are willing to sacrifice your Saturday night to drive your daughter to her friend's house, that you are willing to answer your best friends phone call at 1 am, that you are willing to stick with your husband who just got diagnosed with alzheimers, that you are willing to feed your cat when you really just don't feel like it, that you are willing to go visit your elderly grandma, that you are willing to play a game with your brothers. . . all indicate that you are willing to do another's will besides your own whenever your comfort is being compromised. Even if it's the smallest thing you could possibly do - it all pays tribute to the sacrifice jar (equally or even more so than the "big" sacrifices).
Getting on a personal level here, I have come to greatly appreciate suffering and came to a realization that without suffering I would not be where I am today and know what I've come to gain in knowledge this moment. Sometimes I even yearn for those moments where I can lift up all my sufferings to Christ so that I may be able to offer it up for an even greater cause. Not that I don't enjoy those times where I feel like I'm on cloud 14, I thank God for those times of pure bliss as much as I thank Him for those times where I suffer. I've stated before that suffering doesn't last forever so thank God that He is giving you moments to grow in ways uniquely offered by suffering. Now a lot of times when I am suffering it's hard to think of the bigger picture and not to sulk in my suckiness because I'm not perfect and I don't have this suffering thing completely figured out. I'm just sharing what I've experienced so far.
It's not easy!
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.'"
In the words of an infamous rap I once wrote, "No He never said it's gunna be easy, rather He said you gotta loose your life and then see what I see." (If you want to experience the full blown Z-masta then you have to ask in person. I only perform on Holy Days of Obligation.)
Anything worth doing will be difficult. That's just a matter of fact and suffering for Christ is most definitely worth doing. Suffering in it's form does not scream out "HEY, COME WITH ME, I'M PLEASURABLE." Like I've stated above, some people assume that suffering is a bad thing. If people even thought of suffering as unpleasant then why would we not think of this love, this sacrifice, to be ultimately difficult?
BUT. . .
Even though it isn't easy, we are promised eternal gain. Take courage! Holiness is not capable of supporting sadness. We have the opportunity to take all that's hard and all that's difficult and give it to the One who can make that into something even more. Do not become saddened. I cannot say enough times that even though it's not easy DOESN'T MEAN IT'S NOT WORTH IT. Be joyful that you (me), of such sinfulness, can contribute to eternal acts by means of suffering.
There is no sadness in holiness! - Papa Frankie
Be joyful brothers and sisters, for we have a reason to hope, to love, and to have faith in all of our suffering - look towards our Crucified Lord, the perfect example of suffering made glorious.
God bless and Mary protect.
OFFER IT UP! :D
"Dear heavenly Father, praise be given to your holy name for your forbearance and mercy.
You have dealt gently with your children in love.
You have been patient with me in my humanness and stubbornness.
Lord, through the work of your Spirit,
prompt me to be more jubilant in hope,
more patient in times of trouble,
and more consistent in my prayer life.
Teach me, Lord, to wait with faith and expectancy,
and may my trials be seen as times for growth in grace.
Through Christ our Lord, I pray."
"We also rejoice in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
and character, hope."
- Romans 5:3-4
^Relevant song, I must say.^