By Julia Loria
I recently entered into a period of deep suffering in my life. The plans I had for my life completely changed, and I was left in a state of confusion and grief. Throughout this journey I have grown exponentially in my faith. God was the one thing I knew that would never change, when it seemed like everything was changing around me.
St Therese of Lisieux suffered greatly throughout her lifetime. Her dearest mother died when she was only four years old, she was bullied relentlessly throughout school, and she died a slow and painful death of Tuberculosis. She knew that in order to become a saint, one must endure great suffering. Therese suffered with joy and peace. Some of her final words were “I have reached the point of not being able to suffer any more, because all suffering is now sweet to me.” She believed that her suffering can be united with the suffering of Christ to transform the world, and oh how it did. Today she is a model of how we can view our own suffering as a union with Christ’s suffering. We believe that Christ suffers right along with us in every pain and affliction we experience here on earth. We aren’t alone.
The suffering I endured is nowhere near as difficult as St Therese’s suffering in her illness, and nothing compared to Christ’s suffering for us, but the very least I can do is offer my suffering up to the Lord. Many of us have heard of the saying “offer it up,” but how many of us truly understand it? There are many interpretations, but my favorite is imagining yourself bringing your pain and afflictions up the mountain to where Jesus is on the cross and laying them down at his feet. Christ endured the greatest suffering of all of our sins. He has already suffered through every single sin committed, and everything we will suffer through in this lifetime. Sit back, imagine yourself walking up the mountain, look into the eyes of Jesus on the cross, and lay it all down at his feet. Offer your suffering to Jesus as a sacrifice.
Suffering has developed a new definition to me. Sure, suffering isn’t pleasant, but suffering is truly a blessing. Had I not endured this suffering, I would not have experienced the truly incredible grace of God. It is in our weakest, most fragile moments that we can feel closest to Christ.