God loved us so much, that he gave us his only begotten son. He didn’t just love us theoretically, but he came and expressed that love by suffering and dying for us on a cross and then rising again from the dead. And some of you might ask, “why did he do it that way and not some easier way?” And the answer to that is, “I don’t know,” other than to say that that is the way he wanted show the full expression of his love.
But, if we look to the cross, it is His cross that gives meaning to our lives. His suffering gives meaning to our suffering. When we look to the Cross, we see the suffering of Christ. And when we look at our own lives, we too experience suffering; it is simply a part of life. Sufferings can come to us in many different forms. And the question we may ask is; “Why is there suffering? Why is there pain? Does God know anything about suffering?”
And the answer is YES! God came in all the muck and mud of this world. He didn’t kick sufferings to the side, but He went through them and conquered them so that we would associate all the pains and sufferings in this life, in union with Him and eventually come to the glory of His resurrection. God came to this earth and took on our pain and paid our debt. As the God-man, He took on physical pain, mental pain and moral pain. Those are the three types of suffering; those of the mind, those of the body, and those of the soul.. He took all these upon himself.
So; what is the meaning of suffering? Well, St. Pope John Paul II put it this way, “If you cannot attach meaning to your suffering, you can go into despair, but if you can attach meaning to your suffering, then you can go through anything.” Not only did God redeem us, but that He redeemed our sufferings.
Our sufferings really do have meaning. Jesus came and did everything for us. He suffered for us, he died for us. He is the King, He is the good Shepard, He is the great physician. All of these things He is and they are unique to His messianic mission.
And yet some people today think that if Jesus did all these things and expressed His love this way, then all I have to do is be like a baby bird, just open my mouth and say “feed me, take care of me, do everything for me. I’m a Kings kid, I can name it and claim it. Everything should just fall in my lap. I should no sufferings.” But the truth that is found in the Bible however, is that Jesus did come and die for us, he suffered for us, he is the intercessor, the Sheppard and the physician and so forth. But, he shares all of those things with us, because we are in Him and we are His body, the Church. So, everything that He did in His mission and in His expression of love, he now shares with us. He said, “I went through these things, but so must you.” He says, “pick up your cross daily and follow me.”
In St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he says this; “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body that is the Church.” Paul says he completes what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. What could that be? I thought Christ said “it is finished.”
St. Pope John Paul II asked, “what could possibly be lacking in the sufferings of Christ?” And his answer, “nothing. But that you might come to know the love of God, he has made room in his suffering for you to participate.” What that means then, is that, if you suffer with Christ, you are going to come to know him in a way, and at a level that you have never known him before.
You and I have the opportunity to follow Him and come to know Him, if we join our sufferings with His. We literally offer our sufferings up. And the beautiful thing about our walk with Christ now, is that we have an answer to suffering. And that is: that my suffering becomes a way of not only joining Christ and His mission, and that He is giving me room to participate with Him, but He is also allowing you and me to sense and embrace His love.
God wants to be a part of not only our sufferings, but every aspect of our lives. And once we realize that the love of Christ is so deep, it is then that our souls will rest in God’s embrace.
Until next time, God bless!