When I think of suffering I am reminded of Christ on the Cross-, first of all. I have often wondered about the pain of having large nails driven into my flesh, no matter how I try to imagine it, I find it is beyond what I can comprehend. How could someone willing allow himself to be crucified for the sake of others? For many it is a strange mystery, while for others it is the ultimate sacrifice of compassion.
St. Peter, who was also crucified felt unworthy so he asked that he be crucified upside down. As if the suffering of the cross was not enough, try to imagine the sufferings of crucifixion upside down.
There are countless stories of sufferings in the Scripture. The story of Job in the Old Testament is a very good example of a good man consumed by many afflictions. Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers had many things to endure. There are many stories of Saints who were stricken with much grief, which seems beyond the endurance of human ability. There are also many stories through out the ages of those who endured the stigmata. Some such as Jacinta at Fatima would inflict pain upon herself for the sake of poor souls who did not know God.
What do all these people have in common? They all accepted their sufferings regardless of the pain and heartache they endured. They never turned away from God and always remained faithful, and many learned to find great joy in the pain they received.
For most of us it is difficult to understand that suffering can bring great joy, but the select few who can comprehend this principle, suffering become a great blessing. It is a chance to share in the crucifixion of Christ. It is a chance to offer our pain for the sake of others. It is far better to know God and to suffer than it is to not know God. In truth those who do not know God suffer far more because they do not have the comfort of God to help them through the troubled times.
Here are some messages on suffering from Our Lady of Medjugorje.
MARCH 29, 1984: "Dear children; This evening, in a special way, I am asking for your perseverance in trials. Ponder how the Almighty is still suffering because of your sins. So, when sufferings come, offer them as your sacrifices to God. Thank you for your response to my call."
SEPTEMBER 11, 1986: "Dear children; For these days when you celebrate the Cross with joy, I wish your cross to be joyful. Dear children, pray that you can accept sickness and suffering with love like Jesus. Only in that way can I give you the graces of healing with the joy Jesus allows. Thank you for your response to my call."
APRIL 25, 1992:"Dear children, today also I invite you to prayer. Only by prayer and fasting can war be stopped. Therefore, my dear little children, pray; and by your life give witness that you belong to me, because Satan wishes, in these turbulent days, to seduce as many souls as possible. Therefore, I invite you to decide for God and He will protect you and show you what you should do and which path to take. I invite all of those who have said "yes" to me to renew their consecration to my Son, Jesus, and to His Heart and to me, so we can take you more intensely as instruments of Peace in this unpeaceful world. Medjugorje is a sign to all of you and a call to pray and live the Days of Grace that God is giving you. Therefore, dear children, accept the call to prayer with seriousness. I am with you and your suffering is also mine. Thank you for having responded to my call."
SEPTEMBER 25, 1996: "Dear children! Today I invite you to offer your crosses and suffering for my intentions. Little children, I am your mother and I wish to help you by seeking for you the grace from God. Little children, offer your sufferings as a gift to God so they become a most beautiful flower of joy. That is why, little children, pray that you may understand that suffering can become joy and the cross the way of joy. Thank you for having responded to my call."
For myself every pain I feel is an opportunity to offer it up to God. The souls who are in Purgatory can not pray for themselves. Only those who remain on the earth can pray for these poor souls. For me it is a great blessing and joy knowing that for every pain I feel, I can ask God to accept it as atonement for the souls who are in Purgatory. In doing this I find great comfort, joy and peace.