Grace to you!
Today I reflect on the blessings of accepting and paying forward the sufferings we face, especially when there is no better alternative to handle them. Doing so is an example of virtuous living.
A man shared that the unbearable pain of his life was watching his beloved wife die on his lap. "I thought I couldn't survive the next minute," he said.
Many times, in our life, we go through dark experiences. It could be the passing of a loved one, a child, a spouse, a friend, etc. It could be deteriorating health or terrible news.
Other times, it could be shocking discoveries about betrayal. Friends or family members are exploiting us or stabbing us at the back. We are hurt. We feel devastated.
In those circumstances, we could respond in various ways. One could be to take the pain in and allow it to define who we are or who we become. Our thoughts and memories could be so tainted that we think and breathe the bitter taste of the painful experience. Don't you suppose that handling it this way worsens the impact? We lack peace of mind and peace of soul. We become a double victim of the pain.
Alternatively, we can dare the pain, take charge, and pay it forward. By taking charge, we are not condoning the situation. Instead, we are calling the shot of our management of it. We are not letting it get in our heads and rule over us. We know by doing so, we are identifying with the cross of Christ as well. It sounds old school to look at it this way. Yet the wisdom of God is revealed in doing so.
Reality is: You can't change the passing of your loved one. What is within your control is your management of the situation. You can't make people stop stabbing you at the back. What you can manage is your response towards the realization.
Jeremiah, the prophet, was not saved from human schemes against his life. We read of him complaining to God about his suffering and the plots of those who see him as an enemy (Jer 18:18-20). St. Jerome will speak of Jeremiah's pain as a figure of the Christ, who will suffer the worst of betrayals and persecutions from his people. The Lord Jesus himself tells us that the cross is the way to glory in him. The way to the heavenly crown is embracing the cross in our everyday life (Mt 20:17-28).
There are things in life we can change. Those we must change. There are circumstances we can transform—those we must. However, there are other things we can't change. Those we have to embrace and offer back to God. It is in doing so we discover the redemptive value of suffering. We make peace with it and move on. Such is a vital ingredient of the virtuous life.
Pray with me for the grace to embrace the difficulties of life. May they be changed and transformed into opportunities of blessings for us and those around us. Pray also for the courage to change what we can and should change. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Wednesday, Lenten Weekday, Week 2, Feb 24, 2016: Jer. 18:18-20; Mt. 20: 17-28
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections for the season of Lent your individual spiritual edification. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations. .