It is said that the only two constants in life are death and taxes. I would add a third to this list – suffering.
Suffering is a natural part of human life. We all suffer at some point in our life whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually – and often more than once. Just look at our world in the past year, where we’ve seen plenty of suffering.
Being Catholic doesn’t mean that we are immune to suffering. In fact, some of us may suffer more than others. However, being Catholic means that our suffering takes on a different meaning.
Today’s First Reading from the Book of Hebrews speaks on suffering in some pretty harsh terms: “publicly exposed to abuse and affliction,” “joined in the sufferings of those in prison” and “confiscation of your property.” And, all of these things took place after one was “enlightened,” which is an ancient metaphor referring to Baptism.
If this is the kind of treatment that we can expect after we are baptized and welcomed into the Church … yikes. Why would anyone willingly volunteer (or volunteer their children) to be baptized if suffering is what we can expect?
Do not despair, though, for Romans 8:18 reads, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” While we have suffered in the past, are suffering in the present and may suffer in the future, we have the hope that is given to us through Christ on the cross – that, much like Jesus’ suffering brought about our redemption and eternal life, our own suffering can be transformed, with the help of God’s grace, for His greater glory.
There is even more hope offered to us in this First Reading. It’s not all doom and gloom but, rather, speaks of “knowing that you had a better and lasting possession” and “… those who have faith will possess life.” It speaks of the great peace and comfort that we can have when we suffer, knowing what God can do with our hurt and pain. It speaks of future glory, not of past or present struggles.
This is what we have to hold on to. It’s not always easy to change our perspective, our way of thinking. However, if we can become more disposed to give our sufferings over to God, He can and will do beautiful things with them. Trust in Him. Trust in His hope, trust in His mercy, trust not in misery.
Erin Madden is a Cleveland native and graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is passionate about the Lord Jesus, all things college sports and telling stories and she is blessed enough to get paid for all three of her passions. You can catch her on old episodes of the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter@erinmadden2016.
Feature Image Credit: Ryan Stone, https://unsplash.com/photos/_o_jbr1hXaM