Suffering is a vessel of grace

“In order to purify a soul, Jesus uses whatever instruments he likes. My soul underwent a complete abandonment on the part of creatures; often my best intentions were misinterpreted by the sisters, a type of suffering which is most painful; but God allows it, and we must accept it because in this way we become more like Jesus.” — St. Faustina

Everyone has experienced some kind of suffering in his or her life, and no matter how much we try to avoid such a fate, it is impossible. Even the Son of God had to suffer. We rarely have the desire or ask the Lord to permit us to suffer, but eventually we will find ourselves at the feet of Jesus sharing in his agony in the garden. We need to think of suffering as a kiss from the cross, a special grace in the sharing of Christ’s passion. God loves his adopted children so much that he allows us to suffer in order for him to draw us to himself. Christ brings us ever close to his Sacred Heart where the misery of our own soul unites with his divine mercy.

The suffering in our lives is often a familiar kind of suffering that we experience time and time again. We keep receiving a drink from the same chalice, the same bitter cup of agony. Why does the Lord continue to allow us to endure suffering? Because he is infinite love and desires for us to spend eternity with him in heaven. Suffering leads to the purification of our souls, where our hearts are completely and entirely empty of the self and overflowing with an abundant love for God alone.

The trials and tribulations that confront us in our daily lives test us in our faith in the Lord. When bad things happen to us, do we reject him and refuse his love, or do we run toward our Father with open arms ready to allow God to offer us healing and consolation by his heavenly embrace? If we continue to follow Christ on the journey that he set out for us and place our trust in him, we will only become stronger in our faith. God always brings good out of our suffering even if we do not understand. The truth is that we only see one side of the tapestry while God can see the complete picture in all of its wonder and majesty.

It has taken me a long time to appreciate that there is a beauty in suffering, and to be able to understand that it is a blessing. It is a precious gift because my Lord has allowed me to participate in his paschal mystery and to be a part of his saving plan. Each time I experience suffering, a most painful sting and hurt afflicted upon me by another, I am able to forgive more easily and relinquish any feelings of anger or bitterness. I refuse to become a prisoner within the cell of a cold and hardened heart. I will not be held captive by a yoke of bondage chained to sin. When we forgive, we receive the freedom to keep walking in his purpose, and to not allow any offenses committed against us to turn our heart and mind away from the love of God. We do not have to allow sin to have power over us if we keep our gaze fixed upon the face of Christ. Because of the love and mercy that he gives us when we err in our ways, we can offer the same love and mercy to our brother or sister in Christ.

It is by the grace of suffering that I am able to bear the cross over and over again. We all receive the crosses that are uniquely chosen for us, and I would never trade it for another one. I accept any grief or sorrow that comes with the carrying of my cross because it is in this suffering where I meet Jesus in all of his glory. I know that before we can celebrate the resurrection of Christ in all of his splendor, we must first experience the Crucifixion on Good Friday. It is only by walking with Christ in his passion that we can obtain salvation, so I delight in my sweet cross. St. Augustine of Hippo once said, “In my deepest wound I saw your glory and it dazzled me.” When we surrender all for the love of Christ, and lose ourselves in him as a small droplet of water is lost in the ocean, it is only then that we can rejoice with him on Easter Sunday.

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