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“Finding Purpose in Suffering”

Think of the intense pain it must have caused Mary to see her son in so much agony. As she followed him to Golgotha, she saw his skin torn and bleeding from the scourging, and the heavy load of wood on his shoulders. Then, he fell. Her maternal instinct probably pushed her to react, to go forward and help him, like she had scooped him up in her arms so many times as a child.

Without the intense faith Mary had, her “fiat,” her constant “Yes” to God, she would have despaired. Though she felt her heart bleed for Jesus, she knew what the purpose of his suffering was. His pain wasn’t for nothing, in fact, it was for everything. Our eternal life.

Usually it’s difficult to see the purpose of our suffering while we are in it. It’s difficult to see purpose when we watch our clients, students, friends or family suffering.

As C.S. Lewis quotes a philosopher in his book the The Problem of Pain,

“The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His.”

How do we make our suffering more like Christ’s? Perseverance and trust. Like Jesus, we can choose to pick up our personal cross every day and keep moving forward, one step at a time. We can keep getting back up after we fall. Like Mary, we can suffer in love instead of suffering in bitterness. We can walk beside those who are suffering with compassion instead of indignance.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

Reflection Questions:

What is your personal cross? With what attitude do you pick it up every day?

How have you responded to others carrying their own cross?

Closing Prayer:

Holy Mary, Mother of the Lord, you remained faithful when the disciples fled. Just as you believed the angels incredible message – that you would become the Mother of the Most High, so too you believed and trusted God at the hour of his greatest suffering. In this way, at the hour of the Cross, at the hour of the world’s darkest night, you became the Mother of all believers, the Mother of the Church. We beg you: teach us to believe, and grant that our faith may bear fruit in courageous service and be the sign of a love ever ready to share suffering and to offer assistance.