The Great Benefits of Suffering
|By Saint Claude de La Colombiere|
|St. Claude de La Colombiere
I am quite sure that nothing more advantageous could happen to him than what causes him so much grief. I have a hundred unanswerable reasons for saying so. But if I could read into the future and see the happy outcome of his present misfortune, how greatly strengthened I would be in my judgment! If we could discover the designs of Providence it is certain we would ardently long for the “evils” we are now so unwilling to suffer. We would rush forward to accept them with the utmost gratitude if we had a little faith and realized how much God loves us and has our interests at heart.
What profit can come to me from this illness that ties me down and obliges me to give up all the good I was doing, you may ask. What advantage can I expect from this ruin of my life that leaves me desperate and hopeless? It is true that sudden great misfortune may appear to overwhelm you and not allow you the opportunity of profiting by it. But wait a while and you will see that by it God is preparing you to receive the greatest marks of His favor. But for this accident you would not have perhaps become any less good than you are, but you would not have become holy.
Isn’t it true that, since you have been trying to lead a good Christian life, there has been something you have been unwilling to surrender to God? Some worldly ambition, some pride in your attainments, some indulgence of the body, some blameworthy habit, some company that is the occasion of sin for you? It was only this final step that prevented you from attaining the perfect freedom of the love of God. It wasn’t really very much, but you could not bring yourself to make this last sacrifice. It wasn’t very much, but there is nothing harder for a Christian than to break the last tie that binds him to the world or to his own self. He knows he ought to do it, and until he does it there is something wrong with his life. But the very thought of the remedy terrifies him, for the malady has taken such a hold on him that it cannot be cured without the help of a serious and painful operation. So it was necessary to take you unawares, to cut deep into the flesh with a skillful hand when you were least expecting it and remove the ulcer concealed within, or otherwise you would never be well.
The misfortune that has befallen you will soon do what all your exercises of piety would never have been able to do.
-- Adapted from Saint Claude de La Colombiere and Jean Baptiste de Saint Jure, The Secret of Peace and Happiness (Staten Island, N.Y., St. Paul Publications, 1961), 111.