How to accept (and appreciate) God’s gifts of pain and suffering

Quote of the Day

“Those who suffer for the love of God help Jesus carry His cross, and if they persevere they will share His glory in heaven.” – Saint Paul of the Cross, as quoted in A Dictionary of Quotes from the Saints by Paul Thigpen.

Today’s 99-Word Contemplation

In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. The Word was God. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. The Word endured unimaginable pain and suffering before dying on the Cross to forgive my sins and those of the whole world. May my pain and suffering today be joined with the Passion of Christ and offered to God the Father Almighty in sacrifice for the conversion of sinners, the reparation of sins against the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the reparations of sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for unconditional love of Him.

Today’s Reflection

I wrote today’s 99-Word Contemplation as a prayer to offer during daily Mass. It became a daily prayer for me only after realizing just how amazing and beautiful God’s gifts of pain and suffering are.

Yes, you read correctly. Pain and suffering are beautiful gifts from God that draw us closer to Him. And being closer to God is being closer to unconditional Love.

As Catholics we are all familiar with the phrase, “Offer it up.” Offering it up, or redemptive suffering as it is also known as, is addressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men” [1 Timothy 2:5]. But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men. 

Catechism of the Catholic Church (618)

As a result, each of us an opportunity, then, to partake in the redemptive self-offering that allows us to share in the Passion of Christ.

St. Paul tells us exactly what this means for us in Colossians 1:24 when he proclaims, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church…” (NABRE)

Pope John Paul II, in his Salvifici Doloris (link provided in today’s Supporting Link’s for Additional Meditation), affirms:

In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ (19).

Pope John Paul II, Salvifici Diloris (19)

Is this not a surprising and beautiful gift from God? It absolutely is! To be afforded to opportunity to share in his Son’s Passion and, in doing so, to receive the same redemptive benefit as Christ is (justly) a very humbling concept. And a true gift of Love!

So, the next time you find yourself in pain, or suffering mentally or physically in any way, offer it up! Take advantage of the redemptive value and ask God to allow you to accept you pain and suffering and join it with the Passion of his Son for:

  • The conversion of sinners;
  • The reparations of sins against the Sacred Heart of Jesus;
  • The reparations of sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary;
  • For love of him;
  • And/or for any other special need(s) you have at that moment.

Allow me to get personal HERE

I am a jogging enthusiast. There is no physical activity more relaxing to me than hitting the road for a good jog. And jogging is good for me. It relieves my stress, keeps my heart and lungs in good shape, and maintains my weight in a healthy range.

In short, jogging keeps me – and my doctor – very happy.

(Ok, so the doctor does worry about the impact jogging has on my knees, but he needs to have something to worry about or he would feel guilty for taking my hard-earned money, right?)

One morning last summer, however, I woke in excruciating pain. I soon learned that my sciatica was being severely pinched. If you have ever had a severely pinched sciatica, you will appreciate my predicament.

Relief was not forthcoming. I have never been in such incessant pain.

For the next eight weeks I could barely walk.

I was prescribed muscle relaxers and pain medications (non-addictive) with anti-inflammatory ingredients. I underwent physical therapy. I alternated heat pads and ice packs. I wore a back brace several hours a day.

Still, nothing fazed the pain in the least.

One morning, I lay on the floor next to my bed for nearly an hour, alone and unable to move due to the pain, and I tolerate pain very well. Tears rolled freely down my cheeks as I sobbed aloud.

But at that moment was made manifest the beautiful gift from God of redemptive suffering.

With tears streaming down my cheeks, I sobbed aloud. But my crying out was not borne of agony. Instead, it was full of heartfelt exultations of praise and thanksgiving to God for the opportunity to share in His Son’s Passion!

So, I lay there in my misery thanking God over and over for the pain and suffering I was experiencing. I praised Him for loving me enough to share this incredibly insightful look into His Son’s Love for me. For my suffering surely did not come close to resembling the agonizing torture Christ suffered on the Holy Cross for me (and you!).

Suddenly, pain and suffering had become both surprising and beautiful gifts from God. Honestly, I would not have taken a million dollars that day in exchange for the pain and suffering to end.

What I learned THAT FATEFUL MORNING

Prior to my serious back injury last summer, I had offered up less serious sufferings regularly, such as stubbed toes, daily frustrations, common colds, etc. And my offerings were always sincere.

However, I did not fully appreciate the gifts of pain and suffering God had provided me – and their redemptive power – until I was quite literally brought to my knees by the suffering I was forced to endure through those eight weeks.

From this experience, I have learned to appreciate every distinct opportunity that comes my way to offer up my pain and suffering – big or small – in union with Christ’s own agonies of Calvary. Doing so demonstrates to God just how much I love him, and how much I appreciate being loved by him.

As the Apostle Paul said:

“For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

The Apostle Paul, Romans 14:8

God, the perfect Holy One, whose Son drank the bitter cup reserved for me, I praise you and give you all the glory, both now and forever!

Praise be to God for encouraging us to imitate His Son, Jesus Christ, in all things!

Amen!

Today’s Supporting Scripture Versus for Additional *Contemplation (NABRE)

*When contemplating scripture, find a verse or short passage that resonates with you. Then, rest your thoughts and simply love, and allow yourself to respond to God’s love. That is, we are allowing the scripture to permeate you in order to grow closer to your Heavenly Father.

Note: The New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE) can be found online at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1&version=NABRE

  1. 1 Peter 5:10: The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ [Jesus] will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. 
  2. Romans 5:3-5: Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us. 
  3. 1 Corinthians 10:13: No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.
  4. Romans 8:18: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. 
  5. 1 Peter 4:13: But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.
  6. 1 Peter 2:21: For to this you have been called, because Christ also sufferedfor you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.
  7. Revelations 2:10: Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer. Indeed, the devil will throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
  8. James 1:2-4: Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials,for you know that the testingof your faith produces perseverance.And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 
  9. Hebrews 5:8: Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
  10. 2 Timothy 3:12: In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted
  11. Romans 14:8: For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 
  12. Acts 9:16: … and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.
  13. Psalm 119:71: It was good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn your statutes.

Today’s Supporting Links for Additional *Meditation

*When meditating on scriptures, articles, and other forms of media, you are actively engaging in cognition (i.e., we are actively thinking). That is, you are studying the material in order to learn.

  1. https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1984/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_11021984_salvifici-doloris.html
  2. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/sacraments/anointing-of-the-sick/st-paul-explains-the-meaning-of-suffering
  3. https://www.scripturecatholic.com/suffering/
  4. https://todayscatholic.org/meaning-value-suffering/
  5. https://www.catholicstand.com/suffering-catholic-style%e2%80%8f/
  6. https://catholicexchange.com/what-is-redemptive-suffering
  7. https://mycatholic.life/inspiring-quotes/
  8. https://blog.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit/pope-john-paul-ii-and-suffering
  9. http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/john-paul-ii-dying-with-dignity.cfm
  10. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/sacraments/anointing-of-the-sick/suffering-can-lead-to-salvation

Today’s Prayer for Healing

Behold me, my beloved Jesus, weighed down under the burden of my trials and sufferings, I cast myself at Your feet, that You may renew my strength and my courage, while I rest here in Your Presence. Permit me to lay down my cross in Your Sacred Heart, for only Your infinite goodness can sustain me; only Your love can help me bear my cross; only Your powerful hand can lighten its weight. O Divine King, Jesus, whose heart is so compassionate to the afflicted, I wish to live in You; suffer and die in You. During my life be to me my model and my support; At the hour of my death,
be my hope and my refuge. Amen.

Note: This prayer was retrieved from https://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=873

2 Comments

  1. I am so amazed by you Terry. I was when I was your student and even more now as I read this. You are an fantastic! Amazing! God bless you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Sara for your kind words. I am glad the post held personal meaning for you today. All the glory and praise is due God alone. Peace be with you my friend.

    Like

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