“It is not enough, however, for them to have such misconceptions about God; for, living in the fierce warfare of ignorance, they call these terrible evils peace. With their child-murdering rites, their occult mysteries, or their frenzied orgies with outlandish customs, they no longer retain any purity in their lives or their marriages, one treacherously murdering another or wronging him by adultery. Everywhere a welter of blood and murder, theft and fraud, corruption, treachery, riot, perjury, disturbance of decent people, forgetfulness of favours, pollution of souls, sins against nature, disorder in marriage, adultery and debauchery.” Wisdom 14:22-26
There are times that evil, which is rampant in the world now, feels like it is hovering over me, oppressive and heavy like thick fog, making it difficult to see or even breathe. I see it’s effects all around. It is frightening, and makes me anxious for my family.
“My tears have been my bread day and night, as they ask me every day, ‘Where is your God?'” Psalm 42:4
The hazy mist slithers around me, trying to make its way through any tiny crack in the armor of my soul, seeping its poison into me, hissing words of doubt and hopelessness. “Do you see the confusion, suffering, and chaos? Do you see? What kind of God allows this to happen? Where is your God? Where is your God? Where… is… your… God?”
“For the word of the cross, to them indeed that perish, is foolishness; but to them that are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
But those that taunt me for my faith have no power over me.
“He who will not take up his cross and come after me is not worthy of me. He who seeks only himself brings himself to ruin, whereas he who brings himself to nought for me discovers who he is. ” Matthew 10:38
The weight too of personal trials and suffering, at times, seems overwhelming. I stumble with the heavy cross, and it feels as if it might crush me. It is crushing me…
“Jesus came toward them and laying his hand on them, said ‘Get up! Do not be afraid.’ When they looked up they did not see anyone but Jesus.” Matthew 17:7
Then with the sheer strength of my will I get up. The burden feels lighter. I look over at my Jesus, who is carrying my cross with me, and somewhere deep inside of me, the flame of love flickers bright, and faith is renewed. I feed it with words that come to my heart. They come rapidly, simply, flooding my soul with peace and love…yes, I believe and trust my God because I know Him! I know His Love! He doesn’t just ask me to carry my cross; He carries it with me.
“For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it.” Wisdom 2:24
“If it should be God’s will that you should suffer, it is better to do so for good deeds than evil ones.” 1Peter 3:17
Suffering and death are a part of this broken world, a consequence of the Original Sin of Adam and Eve. We cannot escape it. But God uses it to transform…
Suffering can knock me from my pedestal of pride to deep humility.
Suffering can increase my faith.
Suffering can move me to love and trust my God, and draw me nearer to Him.
Suffering can move me to empathy and love for my neighbor.
Suffering borne with patience and love in imitation of the Master and offered to Him, can release untold grace for ourselves, our families, and the world. By “taking up our Cross” and being like Him, and through prayer, Jesus allows us to participate in the flow of saving grace for souls.
Suffering can prove love.
“…why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31
I know Jesus’ tender love and care. I see it in my life, my family, in every day miracles. I know His voice. It’s the still, quiet, but often startlingly clear word in my heart. I know how He has suffered for me, so that I may never know eternal suffering. He bought me back with love and suffering. Why did He choose to do it this way? Because being willing to suffer and give your life for another is proof of love, so the one who is loved can look upon Our Crucified Lord and never doubt it.
“…They shall look on him whom they pierced.” John 19:37
Protestant’s images of the cross are good. It is true that the cross is a reminder of our redemption, but the Catholic image of Jesus on the Cross is a reminder of His great love! For whose heart, when looking upon Jesus on the Cross, and contemplating his agonies and death, cannot be moved with sorrow for the sins that nailed Him to it, and profound gratitude, and love for Jesus? He did this for me! When my faith and fervor falters, I can look upon Him who allowed Himself to be tortured and crucified, and remember. I can see Him looking down at me, with tears in His eyes, and in a voice touched with emotion saying,
“My child, why… why did you ever doubt me?”