Suffering is inevitable in this world, so having a way to make sense of it is a necessity. The meaning we make of our suffering has a significant impact on how we cope with it. While this may seem simple, it is actually quite the challenge. We are constantly searching for meaning; humans are meaning-making machines. As we grapple with pain, we seek to understand it. This is part of why our faith teaches us to anchor our lives in Christ. Taking our meaning from the Person sustaining our existence can actually be an antidote to getting swallowed by our suffering.
This quote from JPII comes from his work titled, “On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering”. One of the overarching themes of the book is the reality that human suffering has been redeemed through Christ’s death and resurrection. This redemption of suffering comes through love. This may seem strange at first and is in some ways a mystery beyond our understanding. Simply put, filling suffering with love is the best and only solution to suffering. This seems to be a twofold process. On the one hand, suffering calls out to those around us. Our love relationships require us to not leave each alone with our deepest pain. Finding the eyes of the ones we love the most, especially while we are experiencing our greatest pains, transforms us. It’s a way of communicating, “I won’t leave you alone, even in the moments you feel the most broken”. This emboldens us; infusing our inner world with new resources that we didn’t have access to until another joined us.
On the other hand, when we unite our suffering to Christ, we advance the good in the world. It is not as though God wants us to suffer, but rather that He wants to fill our pain with His love. He too wants to hold us in our most vulnerable places, insisting that there is no place in the human heart that He cannot be present.
“The innermost chamber of the human soul is the Trinity’s favorite place to be” – St. Edith Stein
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* The information provided is for self-enrichment and not intended to replace any necessary mental health treatment.
Jonathan Dixon, LMFT
Alpha Omega Team