Every so often I hear or read about a talk being given on the nature of suffering and why God permits it. Why good people suffer while bad people don’t… blah blah blah. The truth is everyone suffers at some point in their lives. From the occasional headache to the loss of a loved one, we will all encounter pain and suffering many times.
Through the gift of our intellect God has given us the ability to find many coping mechanisms in the physical world. From aspirin to Prozac, from professional therapists to friends and family willing to listen, there are a host of remedies to alleviate, if not eliminate, all kinds of pain. In my experience there have been times when I have needed one or all of the above. There have been times when one or all of the above have not worked to the degree expected. In hindsight, I believe those were times when I neglected to add one very important ingredient: Faith.
We’ve all seen the story, titled “Footprints,” about the man walking along the beach seeing his life replayed before his eyes with his footprints and the footprints of the Lord walking beside him. During the hardest and most painful times in his life one set of footprints disappears. The man thinks that those were times when God abandoned him. The Lord explains that those were the times when He carried him. (Some of you may have this story displayed on a poster in your home or office. Some of you may have just rolled your eyes!) I personally don’t have a written copy of this vignette in my home, but I often think of its message during my quiet times. Suffering is occasional and temporary, but God’s love and presence is constant and eternal. Sometimes it may seem like the other way around. When it seems that way to me I try to remember this prayer by St. Josemaria Escriva:
My Lord and my God: into your hands I abandon the past and the present and the future, what is small and what is great, what amounts to a little and what amounts to a lot, things temporal and things eternal. Amen.
I’ve posted this prayer before and I’ll probably do so again. It reminds me that everything is ultimately in God’s hands. When we feel we can do no more, just remember that God is carrying us.
Have a blessed week!