No Nonsense

“He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 10.1)

Another Sad Story

I got up one morning to this email : “Please pray for my sister Terry who lives in Florida. Terry tried to commit suicide. She has been despairing because her union and marriage of 22 years has ended because her husband has decided he wants a homosexual relationship with a man he met over the internet and has embarked on that course. Terry is the mother of two girls (ages 12 and 15) and the girls live with the father at his insistence. He has taken everything, and I mean everything, away from her. Please, please pray for her. She is in the hospital for the next seventy-two hours under observation. She needs to know God’s love and mercy in a very big way.

I have talked to her twice today. She is very, very depressed. I also spoke to the social worker at the hospital (Mercy Hospital, praise God) and gave her all of the background on Terry’s situation with Bill.

She overdosed on drugs and alcohol. She also cut into the scar where her caesarean sections were marked with a razor because Bill railed into her that she is not a good person or mother and she felt that she didn’t deserve to be called a mother…

I know Jesus is working with her, but I know He wants prayer support. Please pray as hard as you can… Thank you very much.

In the Two Hearts,

Shirley”

This is a true story. I just changed the names for privacy sake. My grief is that I get these kinds of emails frequently. Too frequently. Because suffering exists and it is always painful.

All of us have our own share of trials and burdens. We may try to hide it behind a peachy facade – we are so good in wearing masks – but when we are alone at home, we feel the pinch and cry. It may be a simple headache, it may be a tragic heart ache… It may be emotional or physical. But suffering is always sore and disturbing.

God is not glacial

That is why it is very interesting that when Jesus Christ sends his apostles on their first mission, he sends them explicitly to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. He says to them distinctly : “Cure the SICK, raise the DEAD, cleanse the LEPERS, cast out DEMONS” (Matthew 10).

God is not distant and emotionless to our sickness, death, leprosy, demon-infected areas in us. He cares. He wants to do something for your pain.

The problem is that what He wants to do is NOT what we want Him to do! We want to eliminate suffering. We are always on the warpath of miracles. “God do this and God do that….”

Maybe we want to make out of Christianity a glorified playpen. The child thinks only in terms of being picked up, of being cuddled, of being made comfortable. The reality is we cannot remain always children – jumping up and down, waving our little spiritual rattle, and sucking our little pacifier.

That is why God does not eliminate suffering. Instead He gives meaning to suffering.

Suffering is crucial. It helps us to grow. It knocks a lot of nonsense out of us. It cuts down to size.

We are all control freaks. We succeeded in being in control of many things in life – money, marriage, kids, character… This may lead us into the false illusion that we are small gods. The real God is relegated to the edge of our lives. This makes us suffer, it makes others suffer. How many times your partner had to bear the consequences of your god-attitude. How many times our kids had to suffer because of our god-stance.

This is why God sends problems – in marriage, with the kids, with our business – to help us … bring HIM back to the center. Suffering wrenches the remote control out of our hands. And so we come down to our true dimension. We are NOT gods. We are only humans.

Life acquires more color and taste!

Better crosses than crowns

Recently I met this woman who emigrated to the States many years ago from Europe. Just three months after she emigrated, her husband got sick. He basically never could go to work. This woman found herself with a sick husband and two daughters living in a completely new and unfamiliar surroundings, trying to make a living for the whole family. It was a very bumpy. Well, she is such a beautiful woman. Suffering made her so mellow, so pleasant, so compassionate.

“More men have been made great by crosses than by crowns; conversely, more men have been made soft, even ruined, by crowns than by crosses. More men have been blessed through handicap and adversity than have been perfected through health and prosperity” (Richard Cardinal Cushing).

It is when the people of God were facing the Red Sea in front of them, the desert on either side of them, and the Egyptian army at the back, that they discovered His power… able to open even a Red Sea for them. It was in the waves that the apostles discovered that Jesus Christ is not a ghost but someone who comes to save them.

What is important is to learn to use suffering. Do not waste your pain. Instead of murmuring or cursing or alienating yourself, use it for the salvation of many. When in pain, kneel down – when was it that you kneeled down at home to create a contact with God?! – and say : “Listen, God, I cannot hang on here any more – please relieve me. But if it is not possible, please use this suffering. Apply it for the salvation of others. Utilize it somehow!” And you know what? God will unite this pain of yours to the love and suffering Jesus Christ showed on the cross. In that very moment, an energy will come out of your love and God will transfer it to some poor guy who is going to put in an infected needle in his veins, or on that other couple who want to divorce.. and they will not because you have redeemed them.

You can be an apostle in bed.

Auguste Renoir is one of the most famous painters in the world. During his last decade, he was confined to his bed because he was practically paralyzed by arthritis. And yet he continued to paint in spite of his infirmities. Whenever someone asked him why he should continue painting, fighting the torturous pain with each brush stroke, Renoir always answered simply: “Pain passes, Beauty remains.”

Just look up at HIM on the cross and… smile.


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.