[Sunday Reflections] Persevere through the suffering
Readings for today: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21
I shall not leave you orphans; I shall come to you.
I recently had been feeling overwhelmed, sluggish, and orphaned. Ironically, the quote above from the Gospel of John (this week’s gospel) uses the word ‘orphaned’. More coincidences to show that God’s love is unconditional and that He just gets me.
All the overwhelming feelings had come from a variety of new responsibilities and realizations that had all come at the same time. Even though I knew that I had a ton of things to do, I was feeling sluggish and unmotivated to do anything. Because of these two conflicting feelings, I felt abandoned and orphaned. As if God had thrown me into all of these situations without any regard for my mental health or sanity.
But God does care, and it’s foolish to think that He does anything to spite us. In fact, He gives us what He knows we can carry. There is an element of faith that is needed to accept the crosses God gives us – a big leap of faith to give our ‘yes’ to Him and follow Him wherever He leads us.
In this time that follows Easter before the celebration of Pentecost, we have been hearing a lot of stories about Jesus’ original apostles and their evangelization missions. The mission that Jesus entrusted to these men must have been overwhelming to say the least: to spread the gospel to everyone in the world.
One of the most striking lines from this week came from the second reading: “And if it is the will of God that you should suffer, it is better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong” (1 Peter 3:17).
This has been a constant reminder to me over the past couple weeks, and I really want to share this with all of you! I think what I have come to realize more and more as I grow older is that there really is goodness in all things, even the terrible and horrible things. Our sufferings and burdens and crosses are given to us to teach us something and to help us grow stronger. We are given the opportunity to become better sons and daughters of Christ.
The question is, do we take that opportunity, or do we run from the suffering?
Admittedly, I used to run from the suffering all the time. I think we can all agree that suffering and pain is not ideal and people typically don’t choose to suffer by choice. But I found that by running from the pain and finding temporary relief in material things, my wounds would never fully heal. It wasn’t until this past December and facing my suffering head on that I realized that I was looking for relief in all the wrong places.
I’ve heard this said constantly but never truly believed it until now: when we go along with God’s will, we will feel so much happier. The readings from the past couple weeks are affirmations of that, but of course, we can’t truly understand it until we experience it.
From time to time I still feel stress, but my stress level has gone down significantly and I feel more open to what is to come. And if suffering is to come, then so be it. I know that God has my back.
As a model for us to persevere even in the face of adversity, St. Patrick, pray for us!