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Fifty Questions on Love and Life

The Meaning of Suffering

What is the meaning of suffering?

See also: Why is there Suffering?

Personal Experience

For a number of months, I was assailed with anxieties: doubt, guilt, discouragement I tried to resist them with small acts of faith, but I had to do so repeatedly and my difficulties persisted. One day while praying, I complained to God about my anxieties - when all of a sudden I had the thought «instead of moaning and turning into myself because of this, I'd do better by working for the salvation of souls, in offering my difficulties to God with this intention!»

It was so simple, I only had to try it. I did and it was very effective. Every time a doubt or a feeling of guilt surfaced, I simply said: «Lord, I offer this guilt, this doubt for the salvation of souls» and, almost instantly, the guilt, the doubt disappeared.

Inspired by this experience, I have tried for some time to apply the same remedy to other temptations or to sadness and humiliations which arise. And the result has been the same! Generally, I hardly have a chance to say: «Lord, I offer you this temptation or this humiliation I feel for the salvation of souls» when immediately I feel an inner liberation, like a breath of fresh air.

Frederick

Rather than saying I offer you my suffering, I don't say anything, I unite myself with him, I unite myself with Christ's offering of love on the Cross. It is love that he offered, not suffering. (This expression is not very positive) because "to offer his suffering" can only mean one thing in Christian language: to transform suffering into love, to turn a cry of mourning into a cry of love, to make out of a whole life of suffering, a life of love.

It is love that we offer him. When suffering comes, in whatever form, and above all, in the form of mortal anguish, I have nothing else to say when I look at the Cross than this : I want to be united with you, I know that you love me, I know that you have not abandoned me, help me to endure my affliction with confidence. »

Bishop Decourtay (after suffering from cancer)


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