Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. Hebrews 2:18
The goodness of sorrow.
The annunciation, the birth of Christ and the presentation in the temple- all joy and all pain. It is the way you choose to look at things.
A teenage unwed mother pregnant or her carrying the possibility of the child who may find the cure for cancer. Poor and rejected, or rejection leading to the place that you are supposed to be. Bringing a sick child to be baptized whose soul will be eternally protected. Are we looking only at the sorrow? Are we looking hard enough, deep enough? Because if we were, there is always joy. Which part of the Presentation of the Lord will we look at it?
The salvation or the sword
Joy is a choice. It is the way we look at things. Although we may be tested through what we suffer, it is Jesus who ultimately helps us see the joy. Ask for it and He will show you. This is what makes you the light of the world. This is what leads others to Christ. The joy in the midst of suffering.
People do not come to us when there is celebration and promotion. The world is full of that. But what the world is not full of is people who can smile at death and find joy in illness. We think we must always have the right words to say to people when they are suffering. But our lives are not about words, our lives are about actions.
St. Edith’s Stein conversion began with death. In the aftermath of her very close friend’s passing, she watched the calmness of his young widow, and this fascinated her. The light in her eyes and her soul, despite his passing. The hospitality she shared. She expected a mess on a floor but instead got a glimpse into the eyes of Christ. Edith, a Jewish woman, would later become a Catholic, and not only a Catholic, but a nun- one who gave her life to the cross.
All because a widow smiled
Think about the simplicity of that. The power you have to change the face of the earth. Think about what Mother (now Saint) Teresa did. She found joy in holding death. People watched. A soul is converted in watching a woman hold the body of a dying man and praying in a religion and a language that this man understands. This is joy amidst suffering. This is the gift of divine humanity, the light of Christ.
I often struggle with my mission and purpose of explaining the cross, of speaking about redemptive suffering. I tell the Lord I want to speak about joyful things, and yellow and light. I do not wish to speak about swords and sorrow. But this is the conundrum of the cross. To explain how nails in pierced hands become inscriptions of God’s permanent love for us, or how the Lord’s inability to breathe in His dying moments becomes the rhythm in our panic and dismay. When we go through, when we marry our sorrow to His, we transcend pain. The prayer is not take it away Lord, the prayer is help me find joy in the pain.
We offer ourselves, our lives for the love of His. Pain can be beautiful when we allow it to be. While I tended to my sick daughter, traveling across the country and visiting more doctors than I can remember, I chose to consecrate myself to Mary, embrace our road trips and pray the rosary as if her life depended on it, because it did.
And while I still may continue to question why He won’t let me talk about butterflies and rainbows, I won’t question His will.
I have suffered, I have died, and I have rose again.
Show me where the joy is in every situation that entails suffering. Show me where you are. You Lord are pure joy.
You understand how difficult it is to suffer. And while you allow us to be tested and tried in the fire, you choose to help us through. Help me Lord to take hold of your hand and show others who and what you are. A place of refuge, and hope and eternal healing. The only safe place on this earth.
In your holy and precious name I pray,
If you are suffering today, I highly recommend this Marian consecration: 33 Days to Morning Glory. This consecration changed my life when I was going through my daughter’s illness and provided the peace, direction and breakthrough I needed.