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The Value of Suffering

The Value of Suffering

 

Presence of God – O Jesus Crucified, teach me the Science of the Cross; make me understand the value of suffering.

MEDITATION

for post on the value of sufferingThe Passion of Jesus teaches us in a concrete way that in the Christian life we must be able to accept suffering for the love of God. This is a hard, repugnant lesson for our nature, which prefers pleasure and happiness; however, it comes from Jesus, the Teacher of truth and of life, the loving Teacher of our souls, who desires only our real good. If He commends suffering to us, it is because suffering contains a great treasure.

Suffering in itself is an evil and cannot be agreeable; if Jesus willed to embrace it in all its plenitude and if He offers it to us, inviting us to esteem and love it, it is only in view of a superior good which cannot be attained by any other means–the sublime good of the redemption and the sanctification of our souls.

Although man, by his twofold nature, is subject to suffering, God willed to exempt our first parents from it by their preternatural gifts; but through sin, these gifts were lost forever, and suffering inevitably entered our life. The gamut of sufferings which has harassed humanity is the direct outcome of the disorder caused by sin, not only by original sin, but also by actual sins. Yet the Church chants: O happy fault! Why? The answer lies in the infinite love of God which transforms everything and draws from the double evil of sin and suffering the great good of the redemption of the human race. When Jesus took upon Himself the sins of mankind, He also assumed their consequences, that is, suffering and death; and this suffering, embraced by Him during His whole life, and especially in His Passion, became the instrument of our redemption. Pain, the result of sin, becomes in Jesus and with Jesus, the means of destroying sin itself. Thus a Christian may not consider pain only as an undesirable burden from which he must necessarily recoil, but he must see in it much more–a means of redemption and sanctification.

COLLOQUY

“O Lord, You do not like to make us suffer, but You know it is the only way to prepare us to know You as You know Yourself, to prepare us to become like You. You know well that if You sent me but a shadow of earthly happiness, I should cling to it with all the intense ardor of my heart, and so You refuse me even this shadow … because You wish that my heart be wholly Yours.

“Life passes so quickly that it is obviously better to have a most splendid crown and a little suffering, than an ordinary crown and no suffering. When I think that, for a sorrow borne with joy, I shall be able to love You more for all eternity, I understand clearly that if You gave me the entire universe, with all its treasures, it would be nothing in comparison to the slightest suffering. Each new suffering, each pang of the heart, is a gentle wind to bear to You, O Jesus, the perfume of the soul that loves You; then You smile lovingly, and immediately make ready a new grief, and fill the cup to the brim, thinking the more the soul grows in love, the more it must grow in suffering too.

“What a favor, my Jesus, and how You must love me to send me suffering! Eternity itself will not be long enough to bless You for it. Why this predilection? It is a secret which You will reveal to me in our heavenly home on the day when You will wipe away all our tears.

“Lord, You ask me for this suffering, this sorrow…. You need it for souls, for my soul. O Jesus, since You have made me understand that You would give me souls through the Cross, the more crosses I meet, the more ardent my thirst for suffering becomes.

“I am happy not to be free from suffering here; suffering united with love is the only thing that seems desirable to me in this vale of tears” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Letters, 32,50,23,40,58,224 – Story of a Soul).

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Note from Dan: These posts are provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here:  Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art for this post on The Value of Suffering: An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane by Carl Heinrich Bloch, 1873, Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerød, Denmark, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, and the FireLight Student Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, and his newest books Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep and Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Willie Simpson

    We often avoid this topic, but it is good that the Church does not back off from presenting the tough truths. The good that God has for us must be delivered through pain in order to touch the depths of our being. There is a poem, about this topic, but cannot remember all of it or where it came from: I stood a mendicant of God, before the royal throne, and asked for one small gift, that I could call my own. I took the gift from his hand, but as I would depart, said, “but Lord, this is a thorn, and it has pierced my heart”. He said to me, “I love to give good gifts, I gave my best to thee”. As time went on I understood the thorn, by which He gave this added grace; it was the thorn He used, to pin aside, the veil which hides His face.

    • ThirstforTruth

      Thanks and God bless you Willie for sharing the above poem. I
      am seeing the face of Christ for the very first time, truly, in my brother who suffers from Alzheimers in all its horridness and lonliness. But this thorn
      is his purgatory on earth and my wake up call to love with the love of Christ. Again, God bless.

    • MarcAlcan

      I thought that poem was too beautiful so searched for it.

      The Thorn
      By Martha Snell Nicholson

      I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
      And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
      I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
      I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
      This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
      He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
      I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
      As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
      I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
      He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

  • Jeanette

    Thank you for this. I know an elderly priest who asks me for healing prayers every day for the past three years, who struggles with accepting a three year period of suffering of pain. He has been told by a priest friend that God must love him very much to grant him this suffering but he has said, “I wish He loved me less.” He told me that he doesn’t want the crown of suffering. He is a good priest who does offer up his suffering every day. This suffering is a hard thing for him to accept as nothing more can be done for him medically. My prayers for him include asking for healing of body, mind and soul but I have lately added that he would know that he is loved more so by God than before and that God would grant him acceptance and a more ardent thirst for suffering as Jesus needs it for the conversion of sinners as is so eloquently expressed in this Divine Intimacy posting. It is hard for me to watch him suffer and to see the hope he puts upon my prayers. He says that I am not praying hard enough for him. But I know it is God’s Will for him right now. I will print this article and give it to him…maybe it will help. May I ask for your prayers for him too? God bless.

  • Jeanette

    I just came across this:
    “It is, indeed, more through suffering and persecution than through eloquent preaching that God wills to establish His Kingdom in souls.” – St. Therese of Lisieux

  • Noah Doah

    thanks for this post, Suffering is the way the saints got to heaven, who are we to do otherwise?

  • Robert A Rowland

    I know about the value of suffering. For over 8 years, I have been afflicted with degenerative arthritis in both knees. I can barely get around with a cane. My day is filled with varying degrees of pain. Advil helps but never completely eliminates the pain. I have never asked for relief, only for perseverance. I am happy that I can offer it for the poor souls, and I think they are helping me accomplish that. I am doing my best to maintain the image of the youngest at heart octogenarian.

    I do appreciate prayers…

    • LizEst

      Praying for you, Robert!

  • Robert A Rowland

    PERSEVERANCE

    Of all moral values in life, perseverance is king.

    If you persevere to the end, salvation it will bring.

    Free will gives you the option to chart your eternal
    path.

    Only a fool would reject God’s love and mercy for wrath.

    You were created in God’s image to gain salvation.

    To obey the Word is to accept His invitation.

    The world is an enigma to moral values and grace.

    Greed, evil, and violence make it an alien place.

    God knew free will would produce humanity’s greatest
    curse.

    But He did ensure that this judgment we could still
    reverse.

    Jesus’ human nature died to atone for all our sin.

    So that salvation and heaven we could once again win.

    Without adoring God’s presence, let no day ever end.

    Make honoring the angel always at your side your trend.

    Pray the Rosary each day, for Mary’s promise of peace.

    She is our Mother, and her rich blessings will never
    cease.

    God’s love and mercy are always available to all.

    But we must do His will and forever obey His call.

    Life is not without necessary trials, sorrows or grief.

    Perseverance will most surely bring eternal relief.

    Bob Rowland

    III/XV/MMXIV

    • Jeanette

      Lovely poem. Thank you!

  • Robert A Rowland

    Why were my inputs removed?

    • LizEst

      Robert–They were not removed. They went in to what is called “moderation,” where all comments are either approved or disapproved by actual human beings. Thanks for your patience with our system…and God bless you!

  • MarcAlcan

    The gamut of sufferings which has harassed humanity is the direct outcome of the disorder caused by sin, not only by original sin, but also by actual sins.

    Would that every one will come to realize this and therefore come to the full knowledge that the suffering can only be healed through this acknowledgement of fault and in turn meeting the God of Mercy who forgives our sins.

  • jack g.

    Beautiful posts Dan, Thank you. I just bought 5 Divine Intimacy.
    God bless

  • judeen

    the tree of knowledge in the middle of paradise… – it brang us suffering… but through Jesus we learn the power of suffering…. knowledge… it humbles us.. something we did not need in paradise for there was no pride… makes us to care.. for in paradise all cared , it makes us have compation.. which we had in paradise… we offer up our sufferings with jesus passion and death.. for others who are suffering… in paradise no one suffered so this did not need to be done…. it makes us Holy… in paradise we were Holy already.. to the most top Holyness and santified.. with every spiritual gift… now we learn how to become Holy… and fight our way to over come our selves and evil.. when Holy evil can not touch us… or bother us…. so too there is so much in suffering.. we might never know it all… but the world has it wronge.. How precious is suffering… and learning how to love.

  • Anneli Sinkko

    Last August I had to go to hospital where I stayed over 2 months and had 9 operations. During that time everything else became meaningless except my Lord Jesus. It was a wonderful experience and I am eternally grateful that I was allowed to experience it – thank you my Lord.

  • Lucas Arul Seeli

    Sufferings binds us with Christ and with the loved ones. ..

    • LizEst

      Lucas Arul Seeli — This is very long but also good. Would you kindly summarize what you wrote to under 300 words? Please see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here, especially question number 4 and its subquestions: http://www.spiritualdirection.com/frequently-asked-questions Thank you so much…and God bless you.

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