The Gift of Suffering


“God loves us, so He makes us the gift of suffering.

Through suffering, we release our hold on the toys of this world, and know our true good lies in another world.

We’re like blocks of stone, out of which the sculptor carves the forms of men.

The blows of his chisel, which hurt us so much, are what make us perfect.

The suffering in this world is not the failure of God’s love for us;it is that love in action.

For believe me, this world that seems to us so substantial is no more than the shadlowlands.

Real life has not begun yet.” (“Shadowlands,” p. 1)

I once asked a priest what my life would have been like if I had not suffered, if I had married a well-off dentist, had 1.25 kids and lived in an efficient, modern house. He put on a phony, pious face, put his hands together in prayer, and said in a high, mocking voice, ”Oh, you would be a nice Christian lady, praising the Lord.”

What he meant by that amusing bit of acting was that I would be shallow, without depth and strength.

If this is the situation, I say bring on suffering because I want—no I need—to live in reality. I can think of no greater tragedy than to die and discover that I had deluded myself, simply living happily on the surface, eating, drinking, doing chores, sleeping…and yet missing out on the core reality of what it means to be fully alive, fully human, in relationship to other people and to God.



80c7a42c725a7d366587f97d8f87b89e“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

10 thoughts on “The Gift of Suffering

  1. Wow, this is soooo very important. It hits at the core of my being. Sometimes suffering does not seem like a gift at all, and this article puts the right perspective on it. Thank you. It also shows me once again the richness of Catholicism, and Catholic thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Melanie, for this beautiful post. My husband gave a talk the other night at a men’s recollection. It was on corresponding for the grace of God. He reminded the men that to be close to Jesus is to be on the cross, suffering with him. That we become holier through co-redemptive suffering offered up. It’s a hard teaching but a beautiful one. One that challenges us and gives life depth and meaning as you said.
    I like to repeat as an aspiration, “Jesus, I want to be close to you, even if it hurts.” Often I want to run away from suffering instead, but a friend reminded me of Jesus’ turmoil in the garden of Gesthemene. Even he found it hard, but ultimately chose the will of his Father. So as long as we struggle to embrace his will, God is pleased with us. This is a comforting thought, especially when times are hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amen! Melanie, quite honestly I think that you cannot know true joy or peace without suffering. The peace we find in the midst of suffering is so much greater than when everything is going well. The intimacy of Christ in these moments is beyond compare.

    Liked by 1 person

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