One of the most heinous things to a human is to suffer. We hate to suffer. We ask God to take away our sufferings. We complain to our friends about our sufferings. If there is anything we want in life it’s to get rid of suffering and get on the joy wagon. But there is another view on suffering. It is this – and this is going to be hard to swallow but I’m going to take you through this thoroughly- that suffering is the most important way that we gain merit, and therefore find favor with God. You’re not going to like this if you’re on easy street, but this will be music to your ears if you’re a chronic sufferer.
Let us examine all the good things that happen when we suffer. For one thing, we come closer to God. This is poignantly expressed in the Cross of Jesus. Recently I asked Jesus, when was I, in the last five years, the closest to Him? He answered thus, “When they slandered you. When they reviled you and persecuted you unjustly.”
Oh, what pause for thought!
I then thought to myself,
“Here I was, for the entire time people were saying hurtful things about me, complaining on and on to all who would listen, and here, the entire time, I was coming closer to God! What a dope I was!”
And I continued thinking about all the sufferings of my life (which we all have and some worse than others) and I thought to myself in view of what Jesus had said to me, it was by these very same sufferings that I complained about that I was being brought closer to Him! Then what was I complaining about?
Here’s my advice to those who suffer: REJOICE! This is the advice that Jesus gave us and this is the truest advice anyone can give. If you are suffering, see it as a gift from God, a great gift. Relax and enjoy it! What I mean to say is that if you RESIST suffering and HATE suffering it will torture you. If you look upon a thing as heinous it will be awful to you. It’s all in how you look at things. Whatever way you color a picture, that is how it looks. Make the picture change in your mind. Frame it differently. I don’t mean to lie to yourself – no way. That would be self deception. Be careful how you reframe the picture, to see that the perspective is consistent with the viewpoint of Jesus Christ and all the Saints and Avatars of all Religions. I submit to you that these would tell you basically the same answers to the same questions. Jesus explained in the Beatitudes that Blessed are the Poor. By poor he meant poor in a variety of ways. Think on that. You are poor when you suffer. When you have an accident or an illness, when you are slandered and hated and misunderstood, when you are an outcast or a Pariah, when you are not invited to weddings and parties or to any important doings in town, when you’ve lost your job unjustly, when you are passed over for promotion, when you can’t afford to pay your bills because your husband ran off with another women, when you’re considered unattractive and can’t get a date, when you’re looked upon as an outsider and don’t fit in, when you’re handicapped in any way, etc. etc. You are BLESSED. The things that HURT you the most bless you the most. Loneliness blesses you. Sickness blesses you. Even failure blesses you. These situations are not forever. They are TEMPORARY. God does not want you to suffer in eternity, so God allows you to suffer here. No matter how good you are, and how hard you work, and how many good deeds you do, and how smart and strong you are, you are going to suffer. Let me explain God’s will in this. I have had more than my share of suffering. As I look back, long past, I can see the wisdom of some of it. It isn’t easy. You need time and distance. People don’t always see this wisdom, but they can see it with the grace of God.
For instance, when you fail, it is not because God wants you to be a failure. It’s because God wants you to move on to something better. You try a thing and it doesn’t work, because it isn’t supposed to work; there’s something better in store for you. You try another thing. Again, failure. Because that other thing wasn’t right, either. Try again. Sooner or later you will hit the project that is THE RIGHT ONE.
If you’d gotten stuck on the project that wasn’t right, you’d still be there, and eventually it would peter out or you might not like it. God let it fail so you could get to the good stuff. The same with relationships. They fail because they’re meant to fail. If you want Mr. or Ms Right to be yours, you’ve got to go through a lot of wrongs. But this is life. While you’re failing, so called, or with people that aren’t right for you, you want it to end so you can get to the right place. While you’re in it you feel misery. But if you saw the wisdom of what God is doing, you would not feel misery.
All the saints say the same thing, that accepting all that happens as if it were the will of God, is the secret of holiness and happiness. If you can master this, you’ve got it made. Now consider what I said about reframing. You have a problem, a situation that is deplorable. Reframe it. Now say:
“This is a challenge that God has given me. It will lead me to my own greater good. God is truly looking out for my best interests. I will rise to this challenge. I will face it like a saint. I will use virtue, and strength and good will to face it. I will trust in God. God knows all about this problem. I will wait upon the Lord to see me through. I will pray and not stop praying as this thing is upon me, knowing God will answer. This stumbling block will lead me to a stepping stone. I will pass. I will be rated by God. I will gain merit and I will be awarded grace. I will rise higher in the grace of God by this, and eventually, I will be led to greater good. All evil that comes upon me will take me to greater good in the end. I will rise above all evil and I will pass each test. I know that God loves me and God wants my eventual happiness and ecstasy in Heaven. These things are all temporary. Even as I suffer I am happy on an inner level. I have inner peace because I know God is with me and will not fail me. This will lead me to good. I will wait it out, I will accept it, I will not rant and rave because it is upon me. I know I will win, God will win, we will win.”
So many things happen that seem bad but they will without any doubt lead to good. Trust, trust, have confidence and faith. God is with you all the time and is bringing you closer to Heaven every day. Believe in this. Your right attitude will take you out of misery and give you peace.
I thought about what God had said to me regarding I was closes to Him/Her when I was suffering, and so, I reviewed my own behavior, where I’d complained about people hurting me for so many years; complained to God and man (mostly man) consistently, repeating over and over again to my nearest and dearest my woes, and here all along, the very thing I was complaining about, was bringing me closer to God all the time! I want to now correct my own foolishness and share my newfound wisdom with you. For not only did I see how foolish I was but a kind of closure came over me having to do with suffering, like I didn’t have to go back and lament any more. That it was over and it was not evil put upon me, it was good! This newfound wisdom is having a revolutionary change in my soul. I feel free. I feel I don’t have to review, hash out, and ruminate over these past pains. How did I get this new grace? You might think a minister always knew this stuff. But knowing this stuff and kicking up to a higher level, going further with it – this is what happened. Some things you know but you learn to do them better. Something was happening.
For many years I have practiced forgiveness and many times the thoughts of pain from others left my mind. But it always came back during the lonely times.
This particular time, though, I began saying new prayers. These prayers not only forgave, but asked God to help and bless my enemies, those who hated me. After these prayers which went on night after night people began appearing to me and each one confessed why they hated me. It was envy. So they tortured me ignored me because of envy. The knowledge gave me a sort of closure, so I could just forget.
Perhaps this new grace (so old and yet so new because it manifested differently) came to me because of the prayers. Or perhaps the prayers themselves were a result of my newfound happiness, working on the website. Whatever it was, I declare to myself and to you, that we have been praying amiss.
We all of us look for happiness. But we must look to eternal happiness, not the day in/day out/ happiness. If only we had the strength to trust and believe that God will bring good out of our pain. If only! Think to how many times we have prayed to be taken out of our pain, when our very pain brings us closer to God! I plead God now to help me explain my thoughts.
One of the things I seem to think about the most, and talk about the most, and write about the most, it seems to me, is suffering. I know the good of it, but today I know more of the good of it. I’ve learned it since childhood, in Catechism. What Catholic does not know the utility of suffering?
What happens when we suffer?
We gain merit. Do we gain merit in good times, when we are doing good? Yes, we do, but not as much. All good things one does, such as prayers, Masses, sacrifices,
Speaking of God – all good things you do gain merit. But when you suffer in any way be aware – very aware – that at this time is your greatest opportunity to gain merit.
What you do when you suffer merits vastly more spiritual power than at any other times: a hundred or a thousand times more power, depending on the degree of it. This power lifts you up (although you do not feel it yet) and it also lifts other souls up to whom you minister.
So you want to have fun, enjoy life, be loved and all that? You don’t want to be sick or handicapped or poor? You listen to those who brag about their happiness, their joy, their sex exploits, their money and cars and you envy them? You – the one who is passed over, neglected, have little money and lots of problems – you are the miserable one no one loves?
Do you feel God has forgotten you?
You may be the one God loves the most, and you will begin to feel and see this love if you resist the feelings of envy and accept your situation as if God Herself wanted it so. Why would God want this, you say? One of the most important principles I’ve learned from Catholic saints is the principle of union with God’s will. If you can only believe that GOD WANTS IT THIS WAY and that IT IS FOR MY OWN GREATEST GOOD – if you can believe this, then you will stop suffering.
God does not leave anyone totally and wholly in a place of poverty. That is to say, God does not take everything from you. God will let you be poor or bereft in certain areas, but not in all areas. If you will look at the lives of the saints, the champion sufferers (who suffer inside the love and the will of God, who suffer righteously and not with bitterness and anger) you will see that they have many things. They have the love of God, and when they are in times of illumination they have tremendous mystical consolations. I, for one, would not give up my mystical contact with God for all the love and treasures of the world. God is my reward. I look at the cross and I submit myself to God through Jesus daily. This is my reward, this is my happiness. When I do thus, my whole day is filled with peace, and the love that comes from peace and the forgiveness that comes from love, and I am happy. I accept my handicaps, my loneliness and everything that hurts me, and I am happy. RVW