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"great suffering brings great graces" by Ellen Mongan (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: Pixabay.com (2014), CC0/PD[/caption] Great suffering brings great graces! These words are etched permanently in my soul. For those who have walked the path of suffering with Jesus at their side, these words hold a treasured meaning. I, a sojourner on the path to heaven, can assent that the words are true. I also can encourage you with the blessed assurance that when we are too weary, He carries us. Jesus will walk on the water to rescue you from your sinking boat. He will pick you up and carry you on His back safely to shore. Jesus loves us that much! Suffering is a time of intimacy with our Savior. St. Teresa of Calcutta shares, “It is when standing at the foot of the cross where we feel so close to Jesus that we can kiss Him.” I am going to be honest with you: No matter what cross I stand at the foot of, I always start out complaining. It is only after He parts the waves I feel are drowning me that I begin to see Him clearly. He comes toward me walking on the water. Many times God has drawn me apart from life as I knew it. He takes away all that was familiar so I can learn to depend on Him alone. Recently, I finished writing a devotional with the title “In God Alone I Place My Trust.” In this book, I focused on some of the women in the Old Testament. My reason for writing this devotional was an attempt to answer the question: Why did God chose her? It was a question I was asking myself. I emphasize that what these women had in common was that they all put their trust in God alone. Many suffered greatly. In the midst of their suffering, they cried out to God. He carried them through. This devotional was written to bring healing words to the suffering souls. When St.Teresa of Avila fell off her horse and buggy she exclaimed, “Jesus, if this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them!” In times of suffering, we too learn to learn to rely on Jesus to pick us up when we fall down. God does not promise us that we will not suffer, but rather that He will be with us through it. Suffering is a time when we call out to Jesus from the depth of our soul, like a child who is hurting and afraid. Suffering is a time when we seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, with wailing and with tears. Before unbearable suffering knocked on my door, I would try to pray it away. I have learned that there are some sufferings that no matter how hard we pray, they remain. I have learned to lean back in the mighty hands of my Heavenly Father and rest in His arms. I place my trust in Him, knowing that He will not test me beyond what I can endure. I know that my Heavenly Father is bigger than my trial. I know that He will always take care of me. Miracles do happen, so when encountering great suffering, I pray for a miracle. I know in advance that the greatest miracle is in the heart. I learned a long time ago that if change depends on me, I will surely fail. I have found that self-dependency opens the door to discouragement. An answer to prayer is not about how strong my faith is or me; it is Christ in me, “my hope of glory.” Along the journey, even with thorns in the path, I have become assured that if God said it, He will surely do it. He is God alone. I am assured that He is faithful to His promises -- all of them. Along the road of suffering, I have learned a few things. I have learned that ministry is a lonely place at times. I have learned that those who God calls as His disciples, He also allows to join in His suffering. It is in this place of suffering that God brings forth great graces. It is those who take His nail-scarred hands each day and embrace the cross presented that He uses to glorify Him. Lastly I have learned to “keep on doing what is right and in due season I will reap a harvest.” These words are forever before me. ““The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.” God is looking for people who have given their surrendered “Yes!” Will this surrender cost you anything? It will cost you everything. It cost Mary everything. It cost Joseph everything. It cost Paul everything. It cost Jesus everything. It will cost you everything, if you are called to do ministry and you do not walk away. Study the lives of the disciples, who gave up all. My husband, Deacon Pat, and I have weathered a storm or two. We have stayed the course. We have watched miracles happen. We have served the Lord in season and out of season. When Patrick became a deacon, the word the Lord gave me was of all things from a Dr. Seuss book, “Oh, the Places You'll Go.” It totally made sense to me. I could not wait to travel new territory. I have since learned that the real journey we travel with Christ is in the heart, where God alone resides. He works in the secret of our hearts, changing us into the likeness of His son Jesus Christ. As we empty our hearts of sin, we make room to let more of Jesus in. The journey we take with God alone transforms our heart to a heart like His. Oh, the places you will go! This Lent, Jesus is knocking on the hearts of many. He is calling us all to a closer walk with Him. Who will open the door to His grace? Who will choose to journey alone with God? May our hearts cry be, “His way, His will, His timing, Jesus is Lord.” May God be glorified in all we do! If the road leads to suffering, be not afraid. The same God, who called you to be His own, will never leave you, nor forsake you until you arrive in your Heavenly home. Listen for His still, small voice guiding and protecting you. Place your trust in Him alone. He will not fail you!
Copyright 2019 Ellen Mongan