"Three and thirty years Christ dwelt on earth- years of poverty, pain, toil, hardship, humiliation, disappoitment, crowed with a death of agony on the Cross......And from that same Cross he speaks lovingly to the sick and suffering today: "If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me (Matt. 16:24)". Why, then, cannot pain be made redemption? Why under the alchemy of Divine Love cannot our crosses become crucifixes? Why cannot sufferings be regarded as penance for the offenses we have committed against God and our neighbor?....We cannot become like Him in power. We cannot become like Him in knowledge. There is only one way we can become like him and that is in the way He bore His sorrows and His Cross. 'Father, not My will, but Yours, be done". (Why Squander Illness? pg. 6-7)

We are very blessed, as Catholics, to have a way to draw meaning from our suffering that is unique to our faith. Although to a certain extent, suffering is always a mystery, we are given very clear and concise reasons as to why suffering occurs AND how it is not just a punishment or attack of the Devil, but a tool in the spiritual life.

When Buddha said "Life is suffering" he meant it in a nihlistic way. We do not. We mean it in that as long as we live in a world of sin, we must take the path our Saviour took- the Cross. The way to the Resurrection is through the Passion. If there were a better way, Jesus would have taken it. He had infinate wisdom, knowledge, and power. And yet, for our salvation, He chose, not to do any of the infinate number of things He, as God, could have done, but instead He chose to suffer from the very beginning to the very end of His earthly life."Did not Christ have to suffer all these things before entering into His glory (Luke 24:26)"

Those who have became saints have became so only through one way- total abandonment to the Will of God, and that will always involved suffering. No one becomes a saint without suffering.

I do not claim to be any expert in accepting suffering joyfully, or in why suffering exists. What I hope to do here is put forth some Catholic theology to hopefully encourage you in your own prayer journey through your condition.

What follows is an adaption of an article I wrote for Ladies Against Feminism called "Homemaking in the Shadow of the Cross

Why does God allow suffering?

1. Allowing the consequences of our sins. "And David said to Nathan: I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said to David: the Lord also hath taken away thy sin. Thou shalt not die. Nevertheless, because thou has given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, for this thing, the child that is born to thee shall surely die. (2 Kings 12:13, 14)." God in His mercy may choose to remit or lessen our consequences, but He is under no obligation to. We are forgiven and the Lord has taken away our sin. However, for the good of our souls, God may choose to allow us to suffer the consequences of our actions- something that any parent can understand.

2. To provide God a chance to show His glory. "And Jesus passing by saw a man who was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinner, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him (John 9:1-2)."
God may not be rescuing us from our particular situation now to do so in a way later that will bring even greater glory to Him. But He will do it in Him time, and in His way. "How he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not. Ask himself: he is of age. Let him speak for himself. (John 9:23)." Doubtless his parents and the man himself prayed for his healing, but those prayers must have seemed unanswered for his whole childhood and into his adulthood. Perhaps they had even resigned themselves to the condition and stopped praying. Scripture doesn't say. But God, from before birth, had it ordained that this man would be a vessel used to bring glory to His Son. And so might we be.


3. So that God can do a work in us. "We glory also in tribulation, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience trial, and trial hope (Romans 5:3-4)." Trials and tribulations produce traits in us that would not come otherwise. The Epistle of James says the same thing. "My brethren, count it all joy when you shall fall into divers temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith works patience, and patience hath a perfect work: that you may perfect and entire, failing in nothing (James 1:2-4)."
God is concerned with our souls first and foremost. If He has to make us uncomfortable in this world to have us with Him in the next, He will do so. And God knows what is best for our salvation; and that may mean depriving us of some worldly goods or comforts. We need to totally abandon ourselves to Him and His providence, trusting that He will never fail us.


4. God said suffering would be the lot of those who follow Him. We live in a fallen world, and we will not be exempt from suffering until we are in heaven with God. "But in all things let us exhibit ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulation, in necessities, in distresses....as dying and behold we live: as chastised and not killed: as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing: as needy, yet enriching many: as having nothing and possessing all things (2 Corinthians 6:4, 9-10)."
The apostle Paul did not have a "mega-church" or "wealth and health"! He suffered for his work in spreading the faith. Well, we have our own sphere for spreading the faith, and it too will involve hardships of poverty, of health, of many things. "Dearly beloved, think not strange the burning heat which is to try you: as if some new thing happened to you. But if you partake of the sufferings of Christ, rejoice that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you be reproached for the name of Christ, you shall be blessed: for that which is of the honor, glory, and power of God, and that which is His Spirit, resteth upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murdered or a thief or a railer or a coveter of other men's things. But, if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (I Peter 4:12-16)." I used to see this verse as primarily referring to Christians in persecuted countries, or possibly name calling or negative comments I might receive from the world for being a Christian. But if I suffer because I seek to honor God's commandments for women, then I am also suffering as a Christian, in which case I should rejoice that I was "accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus (Acts 5:41b)."
To the world and to the Lord, success is two different things. Scripture is very clear that the cross was a scandal, a failure to the eyes of the world. "In like manner also the chief priests, with the scribes and ancients, mocking said: He saved others: himself he cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross: and we will believe him. He trusted in God: let him now deliver him if He will have him. For he said: I am the Son of God. (Matthew 27:42-43)" From the beginning, the cross has been a sign of contradiction. "But we preach Christ crucified: unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness: but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser then men: and the weakness of God is stronger then men." (I Corinthians 1:25)." And it is this cross, this scandal, the biggest failure imaginable- God on a cross being murdered by His creation- that we are called to take up in our daily lives, to carry with the eyes of faith that we might share in His glory. "Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For he that will save his life shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for My sake shall find it (Matthew 12:24-25)."


But we as Catholics have another motivation, not listed here. We have the concept of redemptive suffering. This article discusses the concept of redemptive suffering in depth.

So how can we do this?

One way is through the Morning Offering. The one we pray in our family is

"O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you all my prayers, joys, works and sufferings of this day, for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of my associates, and the Catholic intentions of the Holy Father."


We can renew this continually throughout the day. As we step on a sore foot, or suffer through a particular procedure, or whatever, we can say "Jesus, I offer this up to you". Those of us who have made the Consencration to the Blessed Mother can say "Jesus, I offer this up this up to you through the hands of your Blessed Mother".

I would also highly encourage you to make the Act of Oblation to Merciful Love

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