Today I realized something about myself. I don't mind suffering! Physical distress, poverty, pain: none of these bother me at all, as long as I'm not inconvenienced or uncomfortable.
I've read gripping works about Christians in horrid circumstances. St. Therese on her deathbed, Ignatius of Antioch on his way to martyrdom, John of the Cross imprisoned, Immaculee Ilibagiza huddled in a bathroom. I usually read these things at night, under soft blankets in my cozy house. From my comfort zone, I am inspired and challenged and ready to endure anything for God.
And then I wonder if someone might have misunderstood something I wrote about prayer. Or if I might be getting a headache. Or maybe I'm asked to go a teeeeeny bit out of my way to help someone else. Alas and alack. Such things can feel like the very martyrdom of me.
(back of hand to forehead; long sigh........)
This is not my first blog post about this kind of thing. Shouldn't I be getting 'better' by now?
I would say yes and no. Yes, in that I should be growing in acceptance of God's will, whatever that may entail. Hopefully that is happening.
And no, in the sense that I will surely always dread suffering. That is only human, only normal. I would even say that the dread and misery makes the gut-wrenching acceptance of God's will (when it involves suffering) all the more valuable. It is a matter of choice, and I can choose God's will regardless of how I may feel.
I do not have the grace to endure facing lions or being imprisoned, because at this moment I don't need it. If a lion ever comes for me, God will provide all the lion-grace I need.
The grace to endure a headache? Yes, that I am frequently given. I'm sorry to say that all too often I've been too busy fretting or complaining to see and accept that grace as the gift it is.
So I shall sit back against my fluffy pillows, maybe with a cup of tea, and let God inspire me with words like these.....
'Permit me to imitate my suffering God... I am God's wheat, and I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may become the pure bread of Christ.' (St. Ignatius of Antioch, just before his martyrdom)
'In temporal crosses let God touch and strike whatever string on the lute He chooses. Never will He make but a good harmony.' (St. Francis de Sales)
'Three times I was beaten with rods; I was stoned once, shipwrecked three times; I passed a day and night on the sea. I traveled continually, endangered by floods, robbers, my own people, the Gentiles; imperiled in the city, in the desert, in the sea, by false brothers; enduring labor, hardship, many sleepless nights; in hunger and thirst and frequent fastings; in cold and nakedness. Leaving other sufferings unmentioned, there is that daily tension pressing on me, my anxiety for all the churches.. if I must boast, I will make a point of my weaknesses.' (2 Corinthians 11:25-30)
'If we only knew the precious treasure hidden in infirmities, we would receive them without complaining or showing signs of weariness.' (St. Vincent de Paul)
'You are quite willing to have a cross, but you want to have the choice; you would have it common, physical, and of such or such a sort. How is this, my well beloved daughter? Ah no, I desire that your cross and mine be entirely of Jesus Christ. As to the imposition of them and the choice, the good God knows what He does and why He does it, all for our good.' (St. Francis de Sales)
Painting: Ferdinand Max Bredt
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