May 29, 2017
I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but take courage, I have conquered the world.
Jesus tells His disciples that they will suffer, and in the same breath He says that He desires for them to have peace. This peace that Jesus offers, then, is not opposed to our suffering; it exists alongside it, in the midst of our pain.
We might think that the only way to be truly at peace is to eliminate every form of suffering we are experiencing—but this is a lie. The greatest peace does not reject suffering but rather is intertwined with it, bringing light into the dark corners of our hearts and redeeming our heavy crosses. The peace of Christ transfigures our suffering so that we can see it for what it truly is: not a punishment but a gift, not a hurdle that we are asked to conquer with our own strength but a loving invitation to lean on His strength in all things, to trust ever more in a loving God Who will help us bear our sufferings. Every trial we undergo will unite us more deeply with the Lord Who suffered for us on the Cross; each difficulty we encounter is an opportunity to share in His life and grow closer in relationship with Him.
Yes, Jesus tells us, we will undergo suffering in this life. But when we enter into our sufferings with a Christian perspective, seeing the whole picture of the Resurrection, they lose their sting. The saints tell us that when we trust in God, our sufferings become sweet.
If we believe that Jesus has conquered the world, then we can bear whatever the world throws at us, because we know that the last word is His. If we trust in God's love for us, coming to Him without the insecurity that tells us He is punishing us, without the entitlement that tells us He is being unfair to us, without the fear that makes us cling to our own plans instead of letting Him lead us, then we will stop asking why. We will begin to be able to understand suffering as a privilege, to share in His sacrifice for us. And we will find, hidden within that mystery, a deep, consuming joy.