“The Experience of Suffering”

“You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to do that (again) … but I wouldn’t take a million dollars for the experience.” 

Have you ever felt that way about any of your experiences? I’ve heard this from some who have been in the military…others who survived a serious illness… and some who have suffered in other ways. 

While I don’t personally have any experiences quite that dramatic, there are experiences I’ve had…painful ones… that I value and know helped me become the man I am today…. perhaps helped me to become more compassionate and more understanding. I know my father’s death when I was 9 years old changed me in dramatic ways…some changes were not good, but I believe that the suffering helped me to think more deeply and ultimately helped me to invite Christ into my heart. 

Something valuable often happens to people through their suffering…. something that they may never have experienced in any other way…. something that changed them and built something deep within their soul. They say, “I don’t ever want to go through that again, but I now possess something of great value.”

St. Peter Claver (1580-1654) was a priest who ministered to some 10,000 slaves arriving in Cartagena, Spain from Africa every month. “He entered the horrors of the holds of the ships offering food and medicine and Christian love….baptizing over 300,000 people during his 33 years there. He could not free them from physical captivity, but his tireless love spoke a healing word to their dreadful sense of isolation, abandonment, and helplessness.” (Magnificat, Sept.20, 2020)

I’m sure you could not pay those slaves a million dollars or $50 million to endure what they went through again…. yet for those who met Christ and are now in heaven, they wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. Who ultimately was happier and more peaceful, the wealthy slave trader with temporary riches or the Christin slaves in the misery of a ship’s hold, but now experiencing heavenly bliss ?  

Suffering is difficult and sometimes horrendous, but it can build something good in us if we allow the Lord to be the craftsman. 

So, let us offer our suffering up to the Lord and ask him to bless us and heal us and prepare our soul for the next life thru our suffering. In heaven, the suffering will be over, but the good effect of our earthly suffering will last forever. 

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