Little Way of the Family

A Reflection on Suffering
March 4, 2011, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Conversion, Joyful Christian, Suffering | Tags:

It is hard to remember that all things that happen are allowed by God. Since God is all good, and God is love, and since all things are allowed by Him who cannot ere, then our sufferings must be for the good, as impossible as it may be for us to understand.

God is timeless. He sees the world, from beginning to end equally, as one thing. His timelessness is how we can approach Calvary each day at Mass. When we suffer, He sees us as the eternal souls we are destined to be, and our suffering is an integral part of that meaning.

When we suffer, we must trust in His judgment and love.

From the Divine Office:
The Moral Reflections on Job by Pope St Gregory the Great
If we receive good from the hand of God, why should we not also receive evil? Paul saw the riches of wisdom within himself though he himself was outwardly a corruptible body, which is why he says we have this treasure in earthen vessels. In Job, then, the earthenware vessel felt his gaping sores externally; while this interior treasure remained unchanged. Outwardly he had gaping wounds but that did not stop the treasure of wisdom within him from welling up and uttering these holy and instructive words: If we have received good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not receive evil? By the good he means the good things given by God, both temporal and eternal; by evil he means the blows he is suffering from in the present. Of those evils the Lord says, through the prophet Isaiah, I am the Lord, unrivalled, I form the light and create the dark. I make good fortune and create calamity, it is I, the Lord, who do all this. I form the light, and create the dark, because when the darkness of pain is created by blows from without, the light of the mind is kindled by instruction within. I make good fortune and create calamity, because when we wrongly covet things which it was right for God to
create, they are turned into scourges and we see them as evil. We have been alienated from God by sin, and it is fitting that we should be brought back to peace with him by the scourge. As every being, which was created good, turns to pain for us, the mind of the chastened man may, in its humbled state, be made new in peace with the Creator. We should especially notice the skilful turn of reflection he uses when he gathers himself up to meet the persuading of his wife, when he says If we have received good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not receive evil? It is a great consolation to us if, when we suffer afflictions, we recall to remembrance our Maker ’s gifts to us. Painful things will not depress us
if we quickly remember also the gifts that we have been given. As Scripture says, In the day of prosperity do not forget affliction, and in the day of affliction, do not forget prosperity. Whoever, in the moment of receiving God’s gifts but forgets to fear possible affliction, will be brought low by his presumption. Equally, whoever in the moment of suffering fails to take comfort from the gifts which it has been his lot to receive, is thrown down from the steadfastness of his mind and despairs.
The two must be united so that each may always have the other’s support, so that both remembrance of the gift may moderate the pain of the blow and fear of the blow may moderate exuberance at receiving the gift. Thus the holy man, to soothe the depression of his mind amidst his wounds, weighs the sweetness of the gifts against the pains of affliction, saying If we have received good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not receive evil?

And from the morning reading of the same day:
Judith 8:25-26,27
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God who, as he tested our ancestors, is now testing us. Remember how he treated Abraham, all the ordeals of Isaac and all that happened to Jacob. For as these ordeals were intended by him to search their hearts, so now this is not vengeance that God exacts against us, but a warning inflicted by the Lord on those who are near his heart.


2 Comments so far
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One of my favorite topics and you shared good stuff. Thanks for sharing that reflection on Job. I never read that before, very enlightening. Pope St. Gregory’s description reminds me of the treatment of consolation and desolation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. I guess great minds…

Comment by Amanda Rose

Suffering is such a difficult topic, and I found the quote by St. Gregory to provide a great deal of clarity.
I always find it amazing when I realize that two different saints, in very different ways, are saying the same thing. It shows that the teachings of Christ can be communicated in may different cultural and intellectual forms. We are truly blessed to have these saints.

Comment by GLudlam

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