|Art by Ruth J Smucker - Uniting Our Suffering|
Before I get too far into this post…
I want to mention that I am now making the artwork from each of my posts available for sale online. All artwork from my past posts is now available, and the artwork for this post will be available shortly.
(Shop Ruth’s art online)
Okay…on with this post…
Noah and I celebrated 12 years of marriage this past weekend. It’s a beautiful thing, but it’s a difficult thing. These years have been filled with change, and growth. They have been filled to overflowing with joys and sorrows, with laughter and tears.
Please do not assume that this post is going to be about Noah and I and our marriage. Nor is it going to be about the new Supreme Court decision on marriage.
What I think I will share is about one of my deepest struggles…
It’s that we are called to share and unite ourselves to the joys and sufferings of Christ. Furthermore, if we are to treat others as we would Christ, then we must unite ourselves to the joys and sufferings of others as well.
Just this past week, I was praying, and I felt as though it was made so clear to me how we can either come closer and closer to Christ and suffer with Him, or we can move further and further away from Christ and suffer alone.
This is not only true in our relationship with God, the same is true for our own lives with others. We can either come closer and closer to others and suffer with them, or we can move further and further away from others and suffer alone.
In the Passion narratives we find that Christ is left alone to suffer, except by a few—His mother, Mary Magdalene, and St. John.
There is a drifting away that happens as soon as Christ enters the garden at Gethsemane. The disciples fall asleep and they scatter when the crowd comes to take Jesus away, Peter denies Christ, Judas gives up on life after he realizes what he has done.
Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene, and St. John, however, draw themselves close to the foot of the cross where Christ is crucified. They suffer with Him, and He is comforted in His suffering, and the pain of Christ’s mother, Mary Magdalene and St. John is shared with Christ and with the others. None of them suffers completely alone.
All of us hurt. All of us suffer. Pain inevitably comes. Why go through it alone, or why leave others to suffer alone?
We must take this a step further however, this also applies to periods of happiness and joy.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15
All of us have times of happiness, times of celebration. Again, why not share them with others?
Oftentimes it is out of our own self indulgence that we do not reach out.
We really don’t want to be sad with someone when we are happy, and we really don’t want to be happy with someone when we are sad. Sometimes we aren’t happy or sad, and we just want to be left alone.
We can bring joy to someone who is suffering.
We can share in another’s joy when we are suffering.
We can also share in someone’s sufferings when we are joyful.
For me, as it might be for many, it can be truly painful to try to live this out.
This is why it is so important that we do not do this by our own strength but by God’s strength. Note that the Mother of Christ, Mary Magdalene, and St. John, are there united with Christ at the foot of the cross. It’s not the three of them suffering together. Even in that moment they need God’s strength to suffer there with God!
Oftentimes, I wonder to myself, surely life would be better if it was even keel?
Nope. God knows we need joy and sorrow to be well rounded people—who reach out to one another in love, and who look to Him to have the strength to do so.
Life is full of ups and downs. It is better shared with others and in union with Christ.