outer or inner self.

Suffering.

This one word manages to invoke so many different thoughts, emotions and fears in my heart (perhaps yours, too?) No one really wants to suffer. We all want lives that are happy, healthy, carefree and joyful!

Yet try as we may, we all come face to face with suffering at one point or another. Some will hide it, some will highlight it, some will run away from it… but suffering is apart of our broken humanity. ***But please don’t run away now- this post has a happy ending! As do all the best of stories. I want to share some encouragement I received from the Lord. Something that has lifted my spirits in a season of suffering.

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After getting pregnant (praise the Lord) I had to go off most of my eczema medications. As a result, my skin has officially gone bonkers ( but seriously, it’s been horrible). It’s either red, open and inflamed, or dry as the desert. One thing a lot of people don’t realize, is how debilitating eczema can be. It’s not just a little itchy skin (at least for me and many others), it’s an insatiable itch that can be all consuming at times. It means waking up in the night from scratching, constant moisturizing, physical pain, and a lot of emotional burdens from feeling and being inflamed/swollen/red/itchy/worn down……

I’ve been really trying to grow in trust and faith throughout this trying time! During adoration this past week, I remembered a verse that in the past has brought me a lot of peace when it comes to physical suffering. I had my bible and thought, ” it would be so great to find that verse tonight”. I flipped to a page in Corinthians, and it wasn’t on that page, so I turned one page back and sure enough, there was the verse, waiting for me! The Holy Spirit had definitely guided me to this place, because like many good Catholics, I know the verse but have NO IDEA where it is located. This is what it said,

” So we do not lose heart. Though the outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” – 2 Corinthians 4:16

Isn’t this beautiful! When we feel our outer selves wasting away ( physical sufferings and burdens we carry on/in our bodies), we can be reassured of the fact that Christ wants to strengthen us and our spirit. He does not want our inner self to waste away, fall into despair, feel rejected or forgotten.

No!! Christ wants us to hope, and “not loose heart”! Christ is near to us in our suffering, even when we feel alone or frustrated. We have the opportunity to invite Christ in to our sufferings. To be vulnerable, open and honest about the crosses we carry. To ask him for his help and presence in our pain. To unite with Christ on the Cross each and every day.

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Although this doesn’t “solve” the problem of suffering, or even take away my pain (or yours), it does remind me that our suffering can become life-giving. We can ask Jesus to use these hard times for someone else’s good (spouse,child,friend,world) and trust in this mystery of redemptive suffering. This is not an easy path, but I know the Lord sees our efforts, sufferings and offerings, and will reward us- either here on earth, or hopefully in heaven one day!

right now.

So last Sunday, we were watching the mass with Fr. Mike Schmitz and he said something in the homily that has stayed with me all week. He said ( I’m paraphrasing here) we can’t encounter God in the past or the future, only in the present.

Obvious? Maybe. Profound? Definitely. If we actually believe this, it has the power to change our attitude, our perspective and our life!

How many of us are guilty for playing on repeat the mistakes of the past, or the way things should have gone? Or how about the worries of the future? How much time is wasted thinking about what might happen, what could be, or the perfect scenario?

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What Father Mike is encouraging us to do, is to radically trust in the power of God working in the present moment! Isn’t that freeing?! Just think: actually letting go and surrendering all that happened in your past, and all that you worry and fear for in the future. Just living moment to moment with your Heavenly Father.

Lord Jesus,

You see each one of us right now. You know our hearts, and our thoughts. You see the burdens we carry from the past and the fears that we hold for the future. We surrender all of these moments, worries, anxieties and hopes to you. We want to live in the freedom that you have won for us on the Cross. We want to live with you right now! Come Jesus into our hearts and meet us in this exact moment. Show us how to live a life that is truly present to you and your people. Send your Spirit to guide, inspire and enlighten us. We love and thank you.

Amen.