In our second reading at Mass this weekend, St. Paul brags about and celebrates his suffering, and encourages us to celebrate our suffering! Why in the world should we embrace and celebrate suffering? According to Paul, who suffered a great deal, we celebrate suffering because suffering is where hope comes from!
Suffering and trials in life are good for us because they help us learn patience. Patience develops our strength of character and helps us to trust God more each day until our faith and hope are strong and steady. We are then able to hold our heads high, no matter what happens, and confidently know that all is well. Paul writes that “suffering produces endurance (patience), and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
Following my recent auto accident I have experienced the greatest physical suffering I have ever faced. Paul’s words are challenging for me. I am encouraged to not waste my pain, and to actually be grateful for it!
I am working hard at learning patience as my recovery is taking much longer that I expected. Perhaps it is God’s way of teaching me patience. According to Paul, developing patience will improve my character (make me a better person) and strengthen my hope.
Suffering has strengthened my hope. God’s sustaining love, poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit, has been with me during this time. God has been especially present through the love and care so many people have extended to me. Through prayer I have known God’s peace. Knowing God’s presence during this time has increased my hope that God will be with me during future trials, even when I am facing death. More than ever, I hope for the eternal life God has promised us.