Friday, September 10, 2010


Blog # 59 SUFFERING - GOD'S LOVE Let's reflect a little on the question of suffering in order to discover, if we can, a value in suffering the superficial eye cannot see, a meaning that is worthy of deep appreciation, and a gift that is truly a sign of God's love. The questions many people seem to ask with regard to suffering are not so much what does it mean for me in God's plan, what possible value can it have for me, or what is God saying to me in suffering, but rather how can I rid myself of suffering, how can I avoid it, what is the most effective pain relief. Nevertheless suffering comes. What should be our response? Is God telling us He loves us more or less than when our health was good and our strength was at its peak? The answer to such a question is given not so much in the terms 'more or less' but 'differently' in the different circumstances of our life. I believe that in suffering, as well as in health, God shows His love for us. And in suffering there are opportunities for growth and holiness that are not found elsewhere. As a result of this conviction, when I pray for the sick and suffering my prayer is often not so much for their health and recovery. I trust God for this and thank Him for my confidence in His love. Rather my prayer for those who are sick or suffering, including myself, is that we might have courage in our suffering, our generosity might grow in this present test of it, and we might really know in this experience a living trust in God, we might grow in faith, God would bless us with the generosity we need to give ourselves to Him and the patience to endure whatever inconveniences and discomfort suffering brings. There is a difference between a football player who is sitting beside a swimming pool in summer talking about a pass or a tackle and the same player on the field in the fall throwing the ball and flinging himself against a two hundred forty pound runner. So the person and the Christian in good health and prosperous circumstances might very well talk 0f faith, trust in God, patience generosity and endurance, but this is so much different from living these realities when the sun goes down and sickness comes, when things we planned no longer fall into place, we fall victim to weakness suffering and failure. Then, in the real order of things, God calls us to grow, to trust, to believe, to give, to endure and to be loved in a special way. If the only question we have with regard to suffering is how to relieve it, it seems we would be in danger of wasting it. It is rich for making us holy. We should thank God for it. It can be special among His many gifts to us May God grant all who suffer compassionate friends to help make the weight of their suffering less, for this too is God's love. And may God grant to all who suffer the light to see it in a positive way, patience to endure, faith in God's mercy, courage and generosity in spending themselves according to God's will, in imitation of and in union with Jesus His Son. Col. 1: 24 gives an ideal response to suffering on the part of a Christian believer : "I find my joy in the suffering I endure for you. In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body, the church.

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