Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM." John 8:58
The past few months since COVID started everyone is experiencing an uptick in suffering. These are difficult times. Times to cling to God. We lost my sister's father-in-law Bill, on August 6, 2020, just a few weeks shy of his 98 birthday. We lost his wife Reba back in September. I had taken my own mom and dad with me to Reba's funeral, but due to COVID, my mom's stroke, and her diagnosis with vascular dementia, I was unable to take them this time. My husband and children, due to many varying circumstances couldn't come with me either. I made the ride alone.
As always when I write about my conversations with God, if the church came out and said it was wrong, the church is correct and I am wrong. Know that as you discern what I am about to write. You may remember awhile back that I posted about 3 Days of Darkness and about the vastness of God and how sin can permeate all of creation. Taking a 7 hour car ride alone to the funeral, I had much to talk to God about, a continuation of our previous conversations.
God has continually been speaking to me about being grateful in all things. I have heard the Saints speak of this, and have often tried to be grateful about things, but more often than not I find myself complaining. After all, suffering is hard, how in the world can one possibly be grateful when your mother looks at you and doesn't remember who you are?
I told God this was hard. And during this long journey he began to speak to me about many things, on the way to the funeral he mostly spoke to me of suffering, and I gained a new perspective.
We know that when sin came into the world, that original sin was passed to all of us, and we know that it is sin that brought death and suffering. Prior to the fall there was no death and man was in union with the will of God, a place where there was no suffering.
I asked the Lord about my mom. He said that all suffering is from sin coming into the world, but not all suffering placed on an individual is because of their own personal sin. This I already knew, but He expanded my view. We are a Mystical Body that was created at the beginning of time and we are all connected. The Lord showed me how generations of sin resulted in diseases over time. We were never meant to have diseases, but as the rift of sin grows deeper, the further we get as a Body get from the Divine Physician, the more we get sick, and the more we rely on ourselves to heal. We are at a point where things are exploding because of the culmination of thousands of years of sin.
Jesus came to pay this debt of sin. But he didn't come to do it and be the only one loving. He came to do it to show us how to love, how to pay back the debt. We could never pay it without him, but he does seek our cooperation in it. This is because God is Glory. But He doesn't just want the Glory for Himself. He wants it for us. He wants to divinize us. God is Love and He wants us to be Love too, but not the fake mimicry that Satan says is love, God's love is self-sacrificing.
He showed me two biblical stories in this regard. And then he showed me my own personal story.
The first was the story of Job. We all know the story. Job was a righteous man. In fact in the beginning of the book of Job we see him offering sacrifice for the sins of his children. A father's love does that. And here we see the devil ask God if he can basically go after Job. And God says yes, which to all of us may seem so cruel. Why would God allow the devil to go after the righteous man? What I felt the Lord show me was that because Job is part of the Mystical Body, he was participating in the expiation of sin. And the amazing thing about this is that he was doing it before Christ came in time. We see Job complain, we see him curse the day he was born, but what we don't see is Job turning away from God, who Job knows is good. Do you see that? All that suffering, and Job clings to God. When Job is taken into the whirlwind he puts his hand to his mouth at the immensity of it. And what I felt like God showed me was that God in showing Job His Glory, also showed Job how Job himself was glorified, how Job had really made reparation for sin, how the Lord would restore him and his family, both the ones he lost, and the ones to be born.
The next story is the story of the man born blind in the 9th Chapter of John. Jesus is clear in this story that neither the man, nor his parents sinned, but we can know that eyes are supposed to see, so that fact that they didn't see we can deduce is borne of sin – just not his sin or his ancestors – it had to be the sin of another in the Mystical Body. Jesus says he is blind so the works of God might be displayed in him. And then Jesus uses clay and tells him to wash in the pool of Siloam. Jesus uses the materials of creation to heal the man born blind. It shows not only the Glory of God, but it glorifies the man and the physical things of creation itself.
It was here that the Lord took me to my own story. My post-partum depression was a time of immense suffering for me. I wanted to die. The Lord showed me how I made a choice to cling to him and how in that clinging to him I was repairing for generations of sin, repairing in a way that would even spare my own children suffering. And I cried, and I was so grateful. I was grateful for my post partum depression. And I praised and thanked God for it that my children could be spared because of my own suffering.
We have two choices when suffering comes our way, cling to God, or fall away. When we fall away the darkness gets larger, creation gets sicker, suffering becomes more. When we cling to him, the light becomes brighter, the grace fills us up, we partake in the cross, and Resurrection awaits.
When we suffer with a grateful heart, it looks like Maximilian Kolbe singing praise as he was starved for 11 days and just wouldn't die until they gave him a lethal injection. People in that concentration camp knew there was something different going on, and the man he saved they protected after his death. Franciszek Gajowniczek was saved not just by Maximilian, but by others who saw what Maximilian did for him and protected him afterwards. He lived to see the Saint be canonized. God's glory spread. Reparation was made. Maximilian was glorified by God but so were countless souls for whom he partook in the Cross of Christ that was given to him.
So I went back to thinking about my mom in her stroke and memory loss and my dad who has suffered severe back pain and I thought about what I see them doing, even through memory loss, even through back pain. They are praying. They are taking all of it to God. Dad even prays the names of people outloud and offers up his pain for them. Mom in her memory loss hasn't forgotten the Rosary. And I remembered that long suffering is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and I knew why. It is reparation in a world that so desperately needs it; a world that is steeped in sin, generations of sin. And many of our elderly are the praying kind of people because they learned long ago that someone else is in control. Our elderly right now, dying alone of COVID, and locked down in isolation because of it, they are making reparation when they hand it to God. In a place where those of us who love them have so little control, we can ask the Lord to Bless them and keep them all the days of their lives. And we can be grateful, so so grateful for them, even in the suffering of all of us.
As I went to the funeral for Mr. Ferris, a man who was like second dad me, I was sorrowful and joyful, this made me understand the heart of our Blessed Mother whose sorrows were also her joys. In Bill's own long suffering, surviving two plane crashes, the war, and several other life altering and changing situations we saw a life well lived. A man that while he was capable never missed Mass. A man who prayed the Rosary with his family while his wife passed away. You can be grateful in the sorrow.