We humans don’t like to be uncomfortable, and nowhere is that more apparent than on the internet. We present an idealized and hyper-sanitized version of our lives, cutting out the flaws and the fights and only showing ourselves as classy, good-looking, fun people who have everything put together. Sadly, our internet addiction has led to an even deeper hatred of suffering than is natural. In a culture that is all about the individual, anything that can’t be tweeted, instagramed, or facebooked is worthless. Suffering, a natural part of being human, isn’t very photogenic, and doesn’t usually make the sufferer look good. A moment spent suffering is a moment wasted.
But suffering is never wasted when suffering is done well. For the individual, suffering offers a chance for growth, a chance for the sufferer to become stronger, humbler, even more peaceful. I know that my own disease, which is pretty darned painful, has made me a far better person. The pain taught me that my strength doesn’t come from my body, it comes from God. It taught me that I’m neither invincible nor perfect, and I need help. And it’s definitely taught me how to trust God with everything I am, which has in turn given me the most lovely peace. That peace has colored every part of my life, freeing me from a lot of fear and confusion that, before I got sick, would have made me stressed and panic-y. Suffering is a beautiful thing!
Suffering is also good for humanity as a whole. We all know that it was Christ’s suffering and death that gained for us our salvation. But did you know that you can add your sufferings to His, as reparation for sin? The sacrifice of Jesus is vertical, between God and man. When we join our suffering to Jesus’s, the sacrifice becomes horizontal, as well- covering the whole Church (on earth, and most especially in purgatory!) in grace. We Catholics are fond of the term “offer it up,” but it’s a good idea- give your suffering to Christ, and He’ll give grace back to you and everyone else in the Church, as well!
We never have to fear suffering or run away from it. We should never go looking for it, either- each of us is given the exact amount of suffering we need to get us to heaven. Take it from someone who understands pain: it’s nothing to fear. No, it may not be pretty, even when run through filters and given hashtags, but we need suffering. And those bad days make the good days even sweeter by comparison. Suffering makes us truly #blessed.
Love to all!