Let’s learn to stand up to suffering

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

Since suffering in one form or another is inevitable in our life here on earth, we should know how to handle it such that we can and should even derive something good from it. The secret, of course, is to go through any suffering with Christ.

Only then can our suffering acquire a positive value, since it can only strengthen us, purify us and win us our own redemption. Indeed, suffering, if experienced with Christ, can teach us many precious things that we often take for granted.

We are reminded of this truth of our Christian faith in the readings of the Mass on Wednesday of the second week of Lent. The first reading, from the Book of Jeremiah, (18,18-20) talks about how some evil men plotted against Jeremiah out of disbelief about what the prophet was telling the people.

These men, with their own idea of righteousness, just could not believe what Jeremiah was saying, a phenomenon that continues to take place even up to now. There are just some who are so fixated with their own estimation of things that they automatically dismiss whatever may even seem to contradict their estimation.

The gospel (cfr. Mt 20,17-28) talks about Christ warning his disciples of the impending suffering he was going to have. And the rather amusing twist in this gospel is that in spite of the serious tone of that impending suffering of Christ, we, in the person of the mother of James and John, tend to think only of our own glorification without the cross.

We have to understand that suffering will always be around in our life. And we should learn how to lose the fear of it. That’s because if we believe in Christ and follow what he has taught and shown us, we will realize that there actually is nothing to be afraid of suffering and even of death.

He bore them himself and converted them into our way for our own salvation. Yes, even death which is the ultimate evil that can befall us, an evil that is humanly insoluble. With Christ’s death, the curse of death has been removed. “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15,54-55)

So, we just have to be sport and cool about the whole reality of suffering and death. What we need to do is to follow Christ in his attitude toward them. For Christ, embracing suffering and ultimately death, is the expression of his greatest love for us. We have to enter into the dynamic of this divine logic and wisdom so we can lose that fear of suffering and death.

Yes, we need to discover and appreciate the link between suffering and loving. The two need not go against each other. In fact, they have to go together if we want our suffering to be meaningful and fruitful. And we have a way to do that.

By uniting our suffering with the passion and death of Christ on the cross, the vital link between suffering and loving is established. The sting of suffering and death is removed, and the guarantee of our resurrection and our victory over death, sin, and all forms of evil that cause us suffering is made.

We just have to learn to be sport about our unavoidable condition of suffering in this life and adapt the proper attitude and reactions that should be inspired by our Christian faith. We have to educate our senses, feelings, and emotions according to the indications of our faith and the recourse to the sacraments. By developing a life of authentic piety, we can hack it!

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