… lest the greatness of the revelations should puff me up, there was given me a thorn for the flesh … Concerning this I thrice besought the Lord that it might leave me.  And he has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Cor:7,8

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These are the words of St. Paul.  They are words that reconcile us to suffering and help us understand that we will face suffering in life – for mortal life is full of imperfections, its population that of those made in the imperfect image of God – mere, mortals who, in the best of circumstances and with desire and intent, grow in perfection during a life time.

The point?  We will suffer hardships, inconveniences, losses, betrayals, accidents, illness, broken promises and the like.  But do these thorns not strengthen us, if we allow it?  Did not Christ suffer, too?  Are we not in the act of suffering brought closer to Christ?  Are not these thorns able to teach us humility?  Persistence?

As for suffering one sure thing can be said, perhaps two.

First, when we attempt to insulate ourselves from suffering we are at greater risk. A dominating strategy to all avoid suffering makes us more fragile, more brittle – less likely to respond more successfully to suffering and misfortune which will indeed come our way in life.  Those whose strategy is to avoid suffering reduce themselves in size – they become small people and resort to the damaging tactic of trying to control all people and situations that they encounter.

Secondly, attempts to avoid suffering places us in the role of God and in that imposes on us an impossible burden – a burden that itself is far greater and more crippling than any suffering.  Indeed, to take on God’s role, grows our faithlessness and that is a self-imposed suffering, an exile from what fortifies us as to all things.

Fear not.  God’s grace is sufficient to thee.

Shalom.

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