I’ll admit I have suffered much in my life, I would even say I suffer often. The truth is we all do. We all experience intense suffering, whether it is physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. If one part of our body is suffering, other parts are almost always affected as well, just as deeply.
What do we do with the feelings that come with suffering?
More often it is easier to keep to ourselves during such times and not let anyone else know what is going on, except for those that share the same roof if it’s something that can be seen.
It is easy to become overwhelmed, maybe it feels like your heart is going to break and you cannot go on. Do you feel like you need to cry out to God? Do you get angry at God for bringing you to a painful state? Maybe you can tell someone, maybe you can not.
To be honest, the devil will do all he can to break us down even more during this time. He will convince you are not worth healing, or that you are a burden on others. Suffering brings us closer to Christ and he knows this. We often make it too easy for the evil one to tempt us into despair.
God did not create us to suffer, the original sin in the world is the reason we suffer. Jesus died on the cross to transform human suffering to have a redemptive value or redemptive suffering.
The term redemptive suffering reminds me of the saying “Offer it up.” Sometimes it comes off as insensitive to those that are really suffering. It can sound as if the person does not care about your suffering or it will go away once you agree to “offer it up.” Saint Faustina, a great mystic had visions of Christ. Christ said during one of her visions, “Do not be afraid of suffering, I am with you.” Christ is with us always and suffers with us. He is closest to us when we suffer according to St. Faustina.
I have a few tips that I have found have helped me through tough times.
- If you are feeling its difficult to take your mind off your suffering, suffer with Jesus. Meditate on one of His wounds that speaks loudest to you during this time. If needed, cry with him. According to Peter Kreeft, a very smart, Catholic philosopher, said ” He may not yet wipe the tears away, but he makes them his… . Jesus is the tears of God.”
- Pray. Ask for healing, the energy, the courage to go on.
Luke 11:9 & 10 “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
- Focus your energy on giving to those nearest you. Giving a smile or contacting someone will relieve your pain/ suffering even temporarily. They will likely give you encouragement and a shoulder to lean on. We need community even amidst suffering.
If you are going through a tough time read this powerful text from Peter Kreeft.
“When we feel the hammers of life beating on our heads or on our hearts, we can know—we must know—that he is here with us, taking our blows. Every tear we shed becomes his tear. He may not yet wipe them away, but he makes them his. Would we rather have our own dry eyes, or his tear-filled ones? He came. He is here. That is the salient fact. If he does not heal all our broken bones and loves and lives now, he comes into them and is broken, like bread, and we are nourished. And he shows us that we can henceforth use our very brokenness as nourishment for those we love. Since we are his body, we too are the bread that is broken for others. Our very failures help heal other lives; our very tears help wipe away tears; our being hated helps those we love. When those we love hang up on us, he keeps the lines open. His withness with us enables us to be with those who refuse to be with us.
– Peter Kreeft – Suffering
St. Faustina wrote (Diary entry 1804):
“If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering.”