Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Finding a Purpose in Suffering

Salvador Dali's 1951 Crucified Christ Painting

Deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow Me
                                                                                      ~ 2 Timothy 4:3 ~

This painting of the Crucified Christ is one of the most moving pieces of art for me (next to the ones pictured below). The way Dali has captured Christ's floating Divine resignation to His fathers will... in a small way I know this feeling very well. So many time with CF you find your self completely powerless to change circumstances beyond your own power. It's these times one feel incredibly helpless and must completely put ones trust in God's Divine knowledge. An example of this is when picc lines are put in. They pull my arm out onto a board that feels much how I imagine a cross would have felt like for Christ (but without the anaesthetic!!). One time they hit a nerve and I can say the pain was worse than child birth, only shorter lived (thank goodness!!) to this day I still have numbness in my fingers occasionally due to the nerve damage... On the table a prayer inside my head repeats,"Jesus Mercy! Mary Help!"

For some of us it is more difficult than others. Suffering has been our life, disappointments, our heartache.. our cross. On the human emotional level it's easy to feel 'why did God let this happen to me?'. Therefore doubt in His divine love for us and become bitter about God and Faith in general. I understand this feeling very well. As a teen part of my personal rebellion was just the sheer trauma of realising the gravity of my illness. All I wanted was a happy life full of adventure and love. This sickness thing was a total downer! I did question how could God love me if I was given this cross (burden)? What did I do wrong? Am I so bad or does He hate me so much that I needed to be punished like this? I didn't understand it at all. 

It is believed that Christ suffered the most in the garden of Gethsemane, 'The agony in the garden', the total surrendering to His fathers will. It was mental torture, knowing all the sins of the world that he was about to make reparation for. He is said to have sweat blood. I have always related the most to this part of the passion, the mental suffering. In a chronic illness, well for me anyway, the mental and spiritual side of it has caused me more suffering than the physical. Fear. The feeling that God did not love me made me despair. I was so sad, but unlike Christ, I was immersed in self pity and in my teens seriously tempted by suicide by what I percived to be a bleak future (a moment of despair I regret completely)

Carl Bloch 'Gethsemane'

My mother always warned me,"Beware of self pity". It is very true, not only do Catholics believe despair in God a grave sin, but on a non religious level self pity renders you powerless. As though in your mind your a victim. Finally I rejected it, I got over it, accepted CF offered my sufferings to God and prayed that life would become better. I went on a pilgrimage across Europe when I was almost 17. This was after being gravely ill. I wanted to thank God for helping me through, but also my prayer intention in the Healing waters of Lourdes in France was 'Dear God, please make my CF manageable so I can still have a family, raise them not let it effect them like it has me. I don't mind to suffer if I have to, please grant me this prayer. However let not my will but yours be done'. My deepest fear is there is no heaven, I chose to ignore this doubt. Sometimes the only prayer to say is the one Saint Thérèse of Lisieux would say in difficult times, "I believe".

Aside from the enormous practical help I found in Dr Phil's work, I also read books by many different Saints. On in particular I found helped me over and above (was incidentally loved by St. Ignatius of Loyola)   is by Thomas à Kempis 'The Imitation of Christ'. The good I can appreciate now from these dire situations, is experiencing that total abandonment to God is a invaluable (humbling) life lesson for me. Chicken soup for my soul if you will! I cannot always see a divine plan in situation (of course, I'm not God!!) but I have gained my strength from trusting in Divine providence.

I hope to return one day to all those sacred place I visited to thank God again and show our sons these breathtaking shines. My Angel has liberated me, My prayers have been answered... 

My favourite painting of all time, The Liberation of Saint Peter 

"If there were no God, there would be no Atheists."

~ G.K Chesterton ~

I do not shout my Faith from the rooftops (however I would never deny it either!), it is an inner belief personal to me that I live by. Being Maundy Thursday I thought I'd share it here before the Easter cerimonies commence around the world so some may understand where I gain my strength from; it is not mine, only God's. To me it is a pity that the world our day and age tries to make God obsolete, non existent even. It is a loss for mankind, not just spiritually, but also culturally. I see what disbelievers mean, 'you can't see it so your just ignorant and believe in myths or ledgends'. Put it into my Catholic perspective, yes I can see that life would be easier living a hedonistic life, but just say religion is right, there is a God and eternal life? I'd much rather be prepared and worthy of God than to turn up disrespecting Him! I guess this is the mystery of life, we may never know for sure until we die, and if I find there is 'no heaven', I doubt I would care by that stage! If there is; well well, it'll be perfection!!!

I cannot deny that this is the only reason I maintained my inner peace, courage and strength throughout suffering (possibly some will find it depressing! I understand, but it's important I think). Faith (which happens to also be the meaning of my name)gives it a purpose, it makes suffering worthwhile and hopefully redemptive. People with an illness should never feel they serve no purpose, you can serve one of the highest in the eyes of God...

God Bless you and your Loved one this Easter. xo

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