Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

There is Cause for Great Rejoicing !

October 20, 2017

” There is cause for great rejoicing here. You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials;

but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold , may by its genuineness lead to praise , glory and honor when Jesus Christ appears. Although, you have never seen Him, you love Him, and without seeing, you now believe in Him, and rejoice with inexpressible joy touched with glory because you are achieving faith’s goal, your salvation. ”

( 1 Peter 1: 6-9)

Many, is the time, when we hear people who are in distress, or possibly who were in distress, because of their circumstances. Something happened to them, or possibly they just hear of the evil that roams the world. The disease, or the tragedy, or crime, or natural disaster… Possibly it is just a situation, that you are struggling through. A relationship difficulty, or a problem or set of problems at work, Possibly even a situation in the home, or at church that is at the heart of your distress.

Whatever it is, its a point of stress in your life. You basically get to a point in dealing with the issue to the point where it just seems easier to avoid it, that resolve it. It is easier to walk away, if you can than to take a deep look into the issue, and analyze it, and think through it.

You pray about it, right ?

So, why has not God delivered you from it ? Why has he not wiped away the source of this frustration, the person, the situation, the whole problem ?

Our God is a loving Father. Who, just as an earthly father should be, loving, and caring, seeking only those things that are most beneficial for our growth and well being.

It is at the very heart of our faith, to understand that God may not be the author of the things that happen in our lives, however, He does allow things to happen, that are designed for our benefit.

We are given the gifts of love, faith and free will, to decide for ourselves what it is that we will believe, and what it is that we choose.

Faith, like love is a choice. These are the gifts given to the Children of God. Our faith, is tested, over and over again. It is purified, it is molded, it is refined. Why ? Why is it that we have these things that cause us to much stress and why is it that God seems, from the viewpoint of design, to need to test and try our faith ? This would be an incorrect way of this view.

Our faith, begins like an infant. We begin to explore and learn about our faith at home, and at Church.

We gather information, and we have the faith that our parents give to us, We learn more as we age,

and gather more information. As we venture out into the world, into school, and on to the playground and interact with the rest of the world, we test out the things we learned.

We also learn that not everyone learned the same lessons we did at home. We learned that we are not at the same place, or understanding as other people. Our faith is tested. Not because God does not love us, or does not care, but conversely, because He does love and care for us. Maybe that little boy who pushed you down, or that little girl who called you names, was not God, but it was something that happened, and you chose, using your free will to blame God, instead trying to fix the problem, or learning a lesson about what might have caused the problem, or understanding that these things are not things that should happen to others.

Through out your life, from the very beginning of your life, you are tested, tried, and refined in your faith, IF, it is your free will to seek God through the process of your pain. If God is the question, then Love is the answer. We are not always privileged in the moment to see the hand of God in the things that we do or have happened to us.

I have, believe it or not, not always been the peaceful loving soul that I aspire to be. If in fact, I manage to forget that little bit of information, I have family and friends who are kind enough to remind me of it. Sometimes, it takes time away from the situation, time in contemplation, time in prayer, to be able to see that not all the challenges are bad. sometimes, they are there to give us insight, to give us understanding, or possibly just to remind us of the fact that possibly, we are all fallen, broken people.

Possibly, the other person, is struggling, hurting, challenged, and trying to work through their own salvation. They too are being tried and refined in their lives, and in their faith, and are trying to make good choices, and sometimes our own broken humanity, and theirs can both get in the way.

Our whole lives are set in motion towards the ultimate goal of becoming saints, towards salvation , towards Heaven. Choose, life! choose faith! Choose Peace! Choose Love ! This faith, is the stuff that the tempered steel of the armor protecting us in this world, and the purified, white hot, burning golden purity of faith we strive for until the day we stand before God.

We are, what we are standing before God, and nothing more !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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Why Is There Suffering ?

June 3, 2017

” Praised be to God , the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation ! He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation that we have received from Him. As we have shared much in the suffering of Christ, so through Christ do we share abundantly in His consolation. If we are afflicted it is for your encouragement and salvation , and when we are consoled it is for your consolation., so that you may endure patiently the same sufferings we endure. Our hope for you is firm because we know that just as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the consolation” ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Suffering, is one of the biggest questions we get asked. Mostly it is formed in the question of WHY ?

Why does God, who is almighty and omnipotent , and who is pure love, permit suffering to occur in the world. Why does it happen to those who are innocent, or young, or of some other circumstance ? Through our own questioning, we seek to find reasons for the suffering which seem particularly to make the least amount of sense to us.

Why death ? Why disease ? Why abuse ? Why is there war ? Why does God not just wipe away all of these things or maybe even some of those who cause these things to occur ? He could just point his celestial finger, or conceive of it happening and it would be so.

This is a valid question, and one deserving of an answer. There is only one answer, however, there are two circumstantial responses, pastoral, and theological. By this I mean, we would not necessarily want to provide a theological response to one who is grieving, and not really in a position to reason out the answer to this question.

That being said, lets take a look at the basis of suffering in our lives, its root, and its end result.

First, we know that all suffering, and death are a result of original sin. ” As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering , and the domination of death, and inclined to sin ( this inclination is called concupiscence .” ( CCC# 418 )

We also know that as a result this fallen nature, with its sin, suffering and death, were transmitted to all human kind.

That sounds all horrible and nasty and full of doom and gloom. It might have been so, but consider for a moment, that if we look back through the entire recorded history in the Bible, we saw where human kind , and in particular the Jews and later Christians, would inevitably sin, doubt, fail and fall.

Just as regularly, however, did God in His infinite wisdom and mercy, have a plan in place that would provide for the redemption and forgiveness of mans failures. It is always in Gods plan that man should grow, and mature and come into union, into relationship with Him.

Knowing this, we can look with confidence and with faith to God in our suffering knowing that He loves us, and wants what is best for us. There is however more to this story !

Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.” ( James 5:14-15) .

What we know is that during the time Christ was with us, He of course healed many people of their sufferings, just as he does today. However, through the church he has also given the gift of healing

both to those within and outside the Magisterium. Of course, in there are 2 of the seven sacraments are specifically for healing. First is Extremeunction, or the Anointing of the Sick. The second sacrament of healing is Reconciliation, of course.

It is interesting to note that the sacrament of Reconciliation is offered in the light that, again, that it is always part of Gods holy will that mankind be united with Him. These are graces given to us by God.

Now, still there remains that nagging ” Why ?” question that is perpetually present.

The answer comes here :

“because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.

Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”

(2 Corinthians 12:7-9 http://www.usccb.org/bible/2corinthians/12)

In every instance of healing that has occurred in scripture there were reasons those healing s occurred, either for the benefit of those who were present, or for the individual in need of the healing.

We are, through baptism, Priest ( laity) , Prophet, and King ( royal priesthood of Heavenly Kingdom).

Through our priesthood, ( as lay people) we are called to make gifts, offerings, and sacrificial offerings.

These come in various forms. Our work, our lives, our tithing ( time, talent and treasure) and also in our suffering.

In both an informal, and a formal sense, when we suffer in minor ways, illness, tribulations etc. we are given the opportunity to offer our sufferings up to God in union with the passion of Christ for not only our own sins, but for the sins of the entirety of human kind.

Through the sacrament of Extremeunction, we are given the opportunity to formally offer these things and to receive the graces necessary to carry those through. In addition, we are given opportunity to not only advance our own salvation, but the salvation of all mankind and to help in bringing about the Kingdom of God.

Like many other things that happen in our earthly life, there are opportunities we are presented with on a daily basis. What we do with those opportunities is up to us. It is the blessing that comes with a free will, we can either choose to unite our daily lives more closely to God, or do nothing.

This of course in no way means that you should not pray for healing, or relief from the suffering that either you or a loved one is enduring. It just means that if you are the one suffering, that you have the opportunity to make something good and salvic come from your suffering. If it is a loved one who is suffering, then it gives you the opportunity to help by your prayers, and leading them to understand the opportunity they have for grace to be part of their journey..

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

Faith When In Suffering

August 18, 2014

Parents, in the great work of love and wisdom, shield their children as best they are able from the pain and sufferings that are either their own, or the sufferings of the world at large.  There is a certain detachment from  the sufferings that go on.

The connection to the suffering that occurs around us changes as we age, and it comes to effect us more as we age due to the fact that we come to understand what that suffering means, and how it then effects the others who are connected to the event that causes that suffering.  It is at times directly related to how close we feel to the event and the people involved.

The changes that occur in our lives, our loves, and our losses, and tragedies  that are inevitable may at some point cause the people involved to stop and consider their lives, and more importantly their faith.

If they do not have an active faith life, then it might cause you to consider your faith and what it means to you, and more importantly, in despair, cause you to question, where is God in the course of your suffering and pain ?    Why did He not perform a miracle for you ?  Why is there suffering at all for that matter ?

Tragedy is probably the biggest thing in life to cause people to stop and examine their lives and faith.  To this end I would like to take a moment to give you some things to consider.

Central to our faith is the story of Jesus and of Mary.  We have no greater example of tragedy, suffering, and faith, than we do in the story of the Pascal Mystery, the life , death, and resurrection of our Lord.

First lets look at Jesus.  Jesus was true God and true man, meaning that he had all the human experiences, while still divine. He still learned about his human existence the way other children do.  At some point He knew it was time to leave home.  He knew that it was the beginning of the end of His earthly journey.   Sure, there was His public ministry that was to begin and there were many things He had yet to do, but He still knew what was to come.

He suffered rejection, even in His hometown, insults, and hatred from others of faith.  He moved forward teaching the gospel of Love.

Finally after the Last Supper, He was betrayed by one of His friends, and He went out in His hour of need,  He asked God that if it were possible for that cup to pass Him by, then that was what He was praying for, BUT in the end he offered up his obedience and said not Jesus’ will, but that of God the Father be done.   Then, upon the cross Our Lord asked the Father why had he been abandoned.     He knew ! He knew that he would be in Heaven Just as he told the thief Diamas ( or Dismas) that he would be with Jesus in paradise.

 

Now, let us turn to Mary.  Mary is the super Mom. She is all about Jesus from the very beginning , from the Magnificat, all the way to her assumption.  Super human in her capacity for suffering and love ; for her love of God, for her faith, for her husband, and  for Jesus.

Consider for a moment her level of suffering from the beginning.  She said yes, at the Magnificat.  She said yes with the knowledge that she would suffer ridicule, insult and possible death for being an unwed mother.  She had suffering in the carrying of the child and the journey to the census.  She had suffering in childbirth in less than idea surroundings.

She had fear and suffering when they lost  Jesus in the caravans and joy at  having found Him again.  She suffered unimaginably in the passion and crucifixion.

Finally, she suffered again, when she went to Jesus tomb, and the tomb was empty.   She cried, and thought she had lost him, that they had moved his body.  She was again filled with joy at seeing Him resurrected.

In these stories we can see that we are NOT alone in our suffering, we are not alone in asking questions !  Mostly, you are not alone in love and in faith.   You can see that Mary and Jesus both suffered  and asked questions.  Most importantly, you can see that in the end of things Jesus rose from the death, defeating evil once and for all, and although there may be suffering in the world there is most certainly Joy and most certainly that God loves you and has never left you.

” The Lord is good and giveth strength in the day of trouble: and knoweth them that hope int he Lord.”  Nahum 1:7

 

 

Suffering and Glory (Part II)

June 27, 2014

The second part of this statement is the best part !

“… Compared with the glory to be revealed for us ”

 

The consolation for the trials we experience in this life are connected to the glory that is to be revealed.  What does this mean for us ?  This is just a foretaste of the things we can expect.  In a cursory reading, some may find that the idea of this glory that will be coming is their heavenly reward, their mansion in Heaven on the streets of gold.

The problem with this concept is that , although our treasures maybe in Heaven, the focus with this type of reading is misplaced.  The glory that is to be revealed is not our own.  It is not the glory given to us for our trials and sufferings here.  Instead, the focus of a deeper reading is the Glory of God, that is yet to be revealed.  That glory is not confined to the realm of Heaven.  The glory , although not in its entirety, can shine forth here on Earth.

It shines forth in the little miracles we experience in everyday life.  It is revealed in our faith, in the conversion of souls.  It is revealed  to us in all creation, in all of life.   The question becomes what is the process of our revelation.  That revelation will come not only in the experience of Heaven, but also occurs in the processes of our own conversions.  As we learn more about our own faith and about God, we will have more of God’s glory revealed to us.  Not that His glory was not already there, but that our own perception of the world of God that we live within is something that is limited by our own human failings.

The revelation occurs like the blind man Jesus cured.  Your own conversion , your faith in God is the healing.  It is what allows the scales to fall from our eyes in that you may see clearly , and that the same small part of that glory can begin to be revealed in our lives !

My the peace of Our Lord reign in your hearts, and be shared throughout all the world !

 

 

Suffering and Glory ! (Part I)

June 20, 2014

“ The suffering of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.

For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God;

For creation was made subject to futility , not of its own accord but because of the One who subjected it in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. ”

 

This reading  shares with us a message both of hope and of faith.  “ The sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us “!  – What a beautiful thought.

We go through sufferings in this life.  Our brothers and sisters  are sick, homeless, hungry and a whole host of other crosses that we carry day to day.    Maybe your cross is your job, a family situation, a child, a spouse, or just life in general.

 

There is a man who spends his days longing for his earthly life to end.  He has a permanent disability so he walks with crutches.  He longs for  a new heavenly body and to see Jesus face to face.

While the end result is much what we might desire, the preface is wrong.

We can’t just go into a hospital and pul on a lab coat or scrubs with no training or education and say “ Hey, I am now a doctor, I need to do a surgery now !”.  It takes hard work, it stakes study, patience and endurance.  The same thing applies in this situation.

 

Our lives demand a lot from us.  We are born like a diamond that is just pulled from the earth.  Through a life of faith we clear away the dirt.  We are washed in the waters of Baptism and through the crosses that we bare , through our experiences, through our faith our lives are cut, and polished , this is the hard work.

 

We need to study !  The way we come to understand our faith, the way we come to know Jesus better the way that we get a deeper understanding not only of the history of our faith but its application in our lives, is to study.  Study the Bible !  Learn about the different people who live in those pages, the struggles they went though and how it is that the Lord spoke to them.  What Jesus said to them.  What did God teach them out their own situations ? Their lives ?  What was the faith lesson that was part of  the story ?

 

Insert yourself into the stories.  Can you understand the perspective of each person within the passage ?  Look at the surroundings and the circumstances.  We should be able to relate to the disciples, and others in the narratives and parables.

The hard work involved in this world. is the clearing away of the garbage.  It is the finding the diamond of our faith and the discovery of its beauty and the meaning it has for our lives.

 

The sufferings of this time, might be that, other in your life do not understand your faith, or are even disapproving of it.   For most , the biggest cross they carry is that as you learn more, and study more about your faith, the of our own interior flaws become apparent.  We can see our own imperfections and then begin anew the struggles and hard work of cutting away and polishing to remove those imperfections as they are revealed.

 

We struggle , we work hard, and we fail.  After some failing we become aware of our weaknesses , our human failings .  We are our own worst critics.  We have to recognize our failings , and make the amends and corrections, as best we are able and begin again.  There are two other points in this process, that are both the hardest and the most important, after seeking forgiveness from God and others, we need to forgive ourselves and seek the help of God in our struggle and work of fixing those flaws.

The other point is being able to recognize the same struggles in other people.  Our brothers and sisters are going through their own struggles and crosses.  We need to be able to understand  and look beyond the surface and to forgive them for any perceived or actual injuries, and help if we can.

 

 

Go Ahead, Make My Day !

July 7, 2013

” Search me O Lord and try me , test my soul and my heart for your mercy is before my eyes and I walk in your truth”. -Psalm 26-2.

     This is a pretty bold statement and seems almost challenging with a very certain confidence.  Would you stand before the Lord, of Hosts, and say to Him, ” Lord, I have it all together, go ahead, put me to what ever test you want because I have got it ” ?

In the course of our weekly walk, we spend time praising God for his goodness and even the trials we have to go through and we say “Thy will be done”.   Then there is Monday, and the trials and the crosses we carry return once again.  In the course of the week, maybe we grow tired.   We tie from carrying the crosses, and that which was the blessing of Sunday, is viewed as the cross of the week, and may not be the blessing again next Sunday.   

Each time we go through processes such as these, there is usually one of a couple of things that happen.  Either we you stand around and ask yourself ” Why me ?” or  maybe instead, you stop asking some of the questions.   There is a popular morning prayer that goes something like this : ”  Lord, I offer up this day.  I offer all the joys and triumphs, sorrows, trials, and suffering, in reparation for my own sin, and the sins of my fellow man”.     Maybe if you engage in such a prayer and you have a terrible day, maybe the next morning you might not want to say that prayer, fearing instead that you will have MORE crosses, and MORE trials, NONE of which you particularly want.  Maybe you skirt that particular prayer and by day 3 or day 4, you  just skip the prayer all together.      Maybe your life smooths out and you stop asking.

The wisdom that you seek is born of the efforts of first asking the questions, and then following through to seek the answers.  Even when the answers might not seem so pleasant at the outset.   The wisdom comes as a matter of experience.   Seeds are planted, and then we get stretched, through our trials, through our crosses, it is through the trials of living day to day that we grow in faith.  This is the internal part.

On the other side of those crosses and trials, the sign of  a faith that is growing in maturity, is when we can take those pains, those crosses, those trials, and turn the focus from within ourselves,  and share those crosses and trials with others who may be hurting, who may be struggling.  Maybe they are not struggling, maybe you take your experiences and share those stories as a matter of praise and thanksgiving for the blessing you received.

You might be going through a particular trial and you ask yourself why is this happening to me.  In truth I tell you, that the trial that you are undergoing may not even about you !   When your parent or coworker might have teased you and said ” I am sorry its not all about you… ”  It is the truth.   You may ask  yourself, Why does the Lord have me working here ?  or Why did the Lord let this happen to me ? … The answer to the question may be , that the reason you are in that place, or in that location, or in that situation, may not so much be about you, it might actually be that  you are there in order that you are an example to someone else, or that you meet someone and you may unwittingly become the vessel or conduit of a blessing for someone else !  

The funny part is, that even THAT , is cause for celebration in that if you allow it to be so, you also can find a blessing in that cross which you carry today.

A Thorn in the Side

June 29, 2013

” Therefore, that I might not become too elated,* a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.b 8Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,c 9* but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,* in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.d 10Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ;e for when I am weak, then I am strong.*”  2 Corinthians 12

So what is the thorn that is in our side ?  How did it get there ?  Why does it continue to be part of our existence?  and Why have we not gotten relief from the pain we carry ?  Is your particular pain a person, a job, a responsibility, a sickness or some other things you would rather just not deal with ?

There in weakness and in pain we are tested, and the weakness takes us to a place where we set aside the things of the world, and turn to God for understanding.  Weakness and suffering have been the fire through which many holy men and women have become saints.

Have you ever wondered why there are no many conversions in the prisons or hospitals and nursing homes ?  It is not so much from fear, as it is from the fact that they become faced with their own weaknesses, and frailties.  They look outside for the reasons that there is weakness and the purpose for their lives, to ask those questions and to desire those answers.  A good deal of the time there is a good bit of nothing but time to sit there and contemplate these things since the rest of the world goes on spinning. 

It  may not be our own suffering, it may be that way be that it is the suffering of those we care about that causes us to ask these questions or possibly just the occasion of the suffering of the world.  As children we were told to eat everything we had on our plates and not to waste anything because there were starving children in Biafra ( what is part of  Modern day Nigeria ).. and usually when Mom made liver for dinner .

As with many things in God’s plans, we may not understand the reason for what is going on in our lives ” in the moment”.  We may gain some insights into why something happened down the road.  The other side is that we may never know until we get to heaven.  It may not even be for our benefit initially.  Maybe our suffering could be in order to have us meet someone, or be an example to others.

We can all really someone who not only suffered in grace, but who went beyond themselves, from being the recipient of graces, but to the service of others and being the vessel of grace to their brothers and sisters.  When we move from the idea of looking inward for answers, to moving outward toward service to others, This is where we move from the potential for grace, to grace in action, and receive Paul’s experience in sharing Christ with others.