Never suffer alone

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

We have to remind everyone that when we suffer, we should avoid suffering by our lonesome. That would make our suffering, whatever may be its cause, whether self-inflicted or caused by others, a useless and purely negative event.

Our suffering can have tremendous meaning and positive effect on us if we go through it with Christ. If we go by our Christian faith, we are sure that Christ is ever willing to suffer for us and with us, and to convert our suffering into the very means of our salvation.

There’s no human suffering that Christ isn’t willing to make also as his own. And he does it because he loves us, he wants to save us, he wants to bring us back to him. Remember that his love is gratuitous. He loves us first before we can learn to love him in return.

Christ loves us even if we don’t deserve to be loved. Let’s never forget that because of this love, he, being God, emptied himself to become man and assumed all our sins by going through his passion and death on the cross and by his resurrection.

It’s in the nature of love, as revealed and lived fully by Christ, that the lover identifies himself with the beloved, and leads his beloved to the highest good. That’s what Christ did for us and continues to do. He adapted himself to us in all the possibilities of our human condition to lead us to himself, our highest good since he is the pattern of our humanity and savior of our damaged humanity.

What St. Paul said about being “all things to all men” can first be applied to Christ. Christ went all the way to become like sin, even if he didn’t commit sin, to save us. He wasn’t averse to any kind of suffering caused by our sin. In fact, he embraced the cross to assume all the sufferings we can have in this life.

All these truths of our faith should reassure us and fill us with peace, hope, and joy. We have to continually process these truths so they can really enter deep in our consciousness and become the very germ of our attitude toward any suffering we may encounter.

So let’s not waste too much time lamenting over our sufferings which are unavoidable in our life. What we have to do is to immediately refer our suffering to Christ, asking for forgiveness for ourselves and others, since suffering is always a consequence of sins.

Then let’s try to assume the attitude of Christ toward his own suffering and death. He looked forward to his passion and death, embraced it with all his heart despite the pain, because that was the will of the Father for the salvation of man.

That should also be the attitude we ought to have. Otherwise, our suffering gets trapped in the world of pure negativity and misfortune. If we are consistent with our Christian faith, we get to see this peculiar aspect of the reality of human suffering. It’s an aspect that’s spiritual and supernatural that goes beyond our human and worldly standards and criteria.

Here we see again how indispensable it is to relate ourselves to God. In fact, we are being asked to unite and identify ourselves with Christ to such an extent that we truly become “alter Christus” (another Christ) or even “ipse Christus” (Christ himself). Our suffering can be a path to be identified with Christ.

This is not falling into some kind of perversion or a psychological anomaly. This will lead us to the fullness of our humanity that can transcend our earthly and temporal conditions.