My friends, today we are here to talk about suffering. Why suffering you ask? Because I did a lot of suffering this week that’s why. You want to know what kind of suffering? I had to visit a depraved, mentally ill man who likes to play with sharp things and drill holes into people. You’re so confused, you wonder what I mean and then it hits you…
That’s right. I went to the dentist. And not only did I have to go to the dentist, I had to have two fillings done.
You’re filled with fear right now aren’t you? Or maybe you’re laughing at me. It’s not nice to laugh! I have a fear of the dentist (and I question the mental stability of people who choose dentistry as their career. Like seriously, who does that?!?!) and I also have a phobia of needles and I don’t like being numb so getting fillings done is pretty much the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I had to try very hard not to bite him as he told me how good I was doing and drilled holes into my head. (In all seriousness, he’s a very nice man, I just think he’s crazy).
While I was in that torture chamber I had my little rosary ring and I was praying. The fun thing about Catholicism is that we believe in “redemptive suffering”. That means that we believe we can accept our suffering and combine it with Jesus’ suffering on the cross and offer it up for our sins or for the sins or physical suffering of another. So I had a specific person in mind and was thinking of them while I was in that
horrible, terrifying chair of pain for an hour and I prayed my rosary.
Friends, it was HARD. It is not my nature or my normal practice to say “Hey, I’m totally cool with being in pain and uncomfortable right now so could you spare this other person? Kay, thanks.” I usually have a fit and complain and whine and think about how terrible my life is (because, if you haven’t guessed from my fear of the dentist, I’m a 5 year old.) It was hard for me to set aside my own suffering and instead think of the suffering of another person. To pray that the Lord allow me to bear my own burden and instead lift the weight from my friends shoulders. It was an opportunity to be Christlike and it was so difficult.
Jesus suffered on the Cross, we all know this. We all know that he offered up His life so that we could be given eternal life. We also know that life can be painful, that we will suffer and through suffering we will attain heaven. If we all suffer, why can it be so hard to offer it up?
It’s hard because we are, by nature, selfish. Eve was selfish when she took the apple, the people who were building the tower of Babel were selfish, etc. etc. But God doesn’t want us to be selfish. He calls us to be selfless, to dedicate our lives to His works and His mercy. The Bible says “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. ” 1 Pet. 4:12-13 and “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer. 29:11.
Suffering has purpose and meaning. In our darkest moments we can take some small comfort in knowing that the Lord has a plan for us.
Also, I’m having my wisdom teeth out soon so if I can pray for you, please let me know.