“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”[a]
This is not exactly a typical post/article, but more of a compendium of thoughts, readings, etc. on the "problem" of suffering (spoiler alert, it's not a problem after all!).
I think it is first prudent to understand the definition of joy, and tied to joy also comes peace.
Joy (Greek: chara, Latin: gaudium)
According to Nehemiah 8:10, "The joy of the Lord is your strength".
Peace (Greek: eirene, Latin: pax)
So the first thing to understand is that no amount of suffering can overwhelm us while we have the joy of Christ within us, while we rest in the arms of God with peace about us. No waves, no matter how big, can capsize the boat of a man who has let Jesus climb in with him. In actuality, suffering can bring great victory just as the suffering and death of Christ made all things new.
VICARIOUS ATONEMENT (SUFFERING FOR THE GOOD):
Citing Peter Kreeft on the existence of suffering:
"God allows suffering and deprives us of the lesser good of pleasure in order to help us toward the greater good of moral and spiritual education...God let Job suffer not because God lacked love but precisely out of love, to bring Job to the point of the Beatific Vision of God face to face, which is humanity's supreme happiness. Job's suffering hollowed out a big space in him so that a big piece of God and joy could fill it. Job's experience is pardigmatic for all saintly suffering.
...the doctrine of vicarious atonement [states that] just as the sins of the guilty can harm the innocent, so the sufferings and virtue of the innocent can help redeem the guilty...Vicarious atonement means that even the sufferings that do not seem to do anyone any good may do someone some good...through human solidarity. For the Redeemer was literally our brother, and his suffering saved the whole family."
If our greatest desire is to be Christ-like, should we not then be in the deepest prayer for suffering knowing fully that which has been so perfectly explained by Kreeft above? If we can even begin to comprehend the words of St. Faustina in regards to being “plunged into mortal sorrow at the loss of each soul,” our deepest yearning should be to receive the gift of suffering as a means for the vicarious atonement of the world around us.
We should pray "thy will be done" in each prayer of petition because we should never be so proud as to insist upon our requests to God. We must trust in his divinely perfect plan for us, always remembering the value yet temporary nature of this life and the blessed hope of the next.
Courage: the courage to suffer in this life knowing it is but a grain of sand in all the beaches of the world
Temperance: the grace to resist temporal pleasures in favor of treasures in Heaven
Prudence: making all decisions for the glorification of God and the unification of his beloved children
Justice: blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness! Leave your nets and I will make you fishers of men! Caring for the poor and dejected when no one else will.
We see St. Paul rejoicing in suffering repeatedly throughout his epistles! He gets locked in prison, and he and Silas sing hymns of praise!
HELPFUL QUOTES/BIBLE VERSES
Matthew 6:19-21 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
>> is it wrong to enjoy the taste of a beer, wine or good food? not at all. God gave us these things. But choosing to sacrifice them (fasting) could bring someone else to God, even someone we have never met before.
Mark 8:34 - Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
>> Part of this cross means accepting physical, emotional and spiritual suffering and giving it back to God and asking how we can learn from that suffering. It's about realizing that "we are strangers, we are aliens, we are not of this world" and denying ourselves the temporal pleasures of this world in order to bring others to Christ.
we shall also reign with Him."
>> If Christ suffered to death to give those who truly believe in and love him salvation, why should we who have been blessed with knowledge of the truth be any different than to suffer to bring others who have no knowledge of him to his most sacred heart?
“We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials.” — St. Teresa of Avila
In the words of Padre Pio, "I do not ask for Divine Consolation because I do not merit it, but your presence, Lord, oh yes this I long for!"
“The desire for unworldliness, detachment, and union with God is the most fundamental expression of this revolutionary spirit (the desire to save the world from its present state of sin and debauchery)…Everything we do in the service of God has to be vitalized by the supernatural power of His grace. But grace is granted us in proportion as we dispose ourselves to receive it by the interior activity of theological virtues: faith, hope, love. These virtues demand the full and constant exercise of our intelligence and will. But this exercise is frequently obstructed by exterior influences which blind us with passion and draw us away from our supernatural objective. This cannot be avoided, but it must be fought against by a constant discipline of recollection, meditation, prayer, study, mortification of the desires, and at least some measure of solitude and retirement.” – Thomas Merton in The Ascent of Truth
"The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little." - Thomas Merton
St. Francis of Assisi Novena
who voluntarily renounced
all the comforts and riches of your home
to follow more perfectly the life of poverty
and abnegation of Jesus Christ:
obtain for us,
a generous contempt of all things in this world,
that we may secure the true
and eternal things of heaven.
Say the Glory be....
who during the whole course of your life
continually wept over the passion of the Redeemer,
and labour most zealously for the salvation of souls:
obtain for us,
the grace of weeping continually
over those sins
by which we have crucified
afresh Our Lord Jesus Christ,
that we may attain to be of the number
of those who shall eternally bless His supreme mercy.
Say the Glory be....
who, loving above all things suffering and the cross,
merited to bear in your body the miraculous stigmata,
by which you became a living image
of Jesus Christ crucified:
obtain for us,
the grace to bear in our bodies
the mortifications of Christ,
that we may merit one day
to receive the consolations
which are infallibly promised
to all those who now weep.
Say the Glory be…