This excerpt is taken from my last session with my Aunt Betty. At the time I wrote this, I was concerned that I had nerve damage in my feet based on the symptoms and the amount of time they were taking to heal. However, it turns out it is not the nerves and they will heal within a few weeks. Here are Betty’s words to me:
I wonder if the Lord is allowing stuff to happen to us as part of redemptive suffering so be sure you keep your attitude right with the Lord so that this pain is not wasted. Try to ask the Lord to receive it as you’re meant to receive it and that He use it for whatever good He is using it for— your good and the good of others.
Unite it with Christ’s suffering. If you play around, it seems to encourage Satan to give you a harder time because He thinks he’s getting somewhere. The Saints wouldn’t open to any going back. Once they set their hand to the plow, there was no turning back. The saints went through horrendous type of spiritual experiences. They just had to make their mind up to hang in there. There are no easy answers. We are forever looking for a way out of suffering. So even with your foot say, “Ok, Lord, I know you intend to bring good out of it, so help me to cooperate.” My hope is as we cooperate, then the Lord sends us help because we pass whatever test or whatever we had to go through. “Lord, if there’s something I need to learn, help me catch on to what it is. In other words, look for anything of what we’re being asked to do. If it’s redemptive suffering, all we can do is hang in there. “If there’s something I need to learn, teach me, but if I’m making it worse than help me let it go.”
I see the word “forgiveness.” Maybe if you want the Lord to help you, it’s important that you really open to forgiveness. See if the child in you is holding onto anger and resentment at X for making a mistake. See if the Lord wants to heal you of this part that gets walked on and not listened to.
Maybe it’s something really important. There are certain crosses we are to carry for a while and other crosses are part of who we are and those we carry through life. There’s a part of us that wants Jesus to heal everything, but by living life you learn that there are certain crosses people are called on to carry and all kinds of prayers and doctors won’t make a difference. If it’s this kind of cross, ask Jesus how He’d like you to carry it.
Some of these things we’re suffering is Christ suffering through us. We’re in a mystery. It helps others as we learn to bear it without complaining as we become better people for having carried the cross. Jesus lived His life that way. We’re faced with this mystery of suffering that we don’t have easy answers for so have to ask the Lord to teach us.
This is the Christian walk. The pagan in us still doesn’t like it, but God hasn’t changed how it happens. So we can pray all we want, but some crosses in our lives remain so there’s something we need to learn with those crosses. Those who have suffered and learned how to handle suffering are often spiritual giants. They aren’t the ones complaining.
Suffering is a necessary part of our growth. Part of our problem is we know God can work miracles and take all the suffering from us. We are expected to grow in our ability to trust Him to always do what’s good for us. We can go in our stubborn part and refuse to receive that information. Jesus said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”(Luke 22:42)
There are certain crosses that about all we can do is pray for more acceptance about what God knows needs to happen rather than making it worse by getting rebellious. It’s good for us to pause and see what Jesus did for us. When you meditate on the Stations of the Cross, you realize life is truly a mystery and Christ is with us walking our painful ways. Lent is good for us.
“Lord, please teach me what you want me to learn here.” Remember Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
The saints said when you’re going through trials, meditating on Jesus’ crucifixion helps you find your way because there’s a mystery that we all undergo the passion of Christ in the course of our life. There’s a richness in meditating on the cross. You learn a lot about life. You get the wisdom you need for that part of your journey.
Today’s mass readings from Daniel 6 are applicable here. The story of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego tells us of three Jewish boys who refused to bow down to the King of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzer. Because they refused to bow down, the king had them thrown into the fiery furnace which was heated seven times hotter than normal. Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego had faith that God would save them. When King Nebuchadnezzer looked into the fire he saw four men walking around in the furnace unharmed – Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, and the Son of God. King Nebuchadnezzer brought the young men out of the flames, promoted them to a higher office and decreed that the God of Israel be worshipped. Sometimes we are thrown into the fire in life, but God is always faithful if we put our trust in Him. Our part is to walk through the fire so we can get to the other side. As Passion week nears and Lent comes to a close, may we learn whatever lesson God intended for us this Lent and may God bring us to another level on our journey.