pain and suffering

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One of the things that being Catholic gives me is a unified concept of what suffering is good for. As I age, I find this extremely comforting.
I have always considered myself to have a high tolerance for pain. I mean, I gave birth 6 times and only had drugs once (and that was not by my choice, nor did they help me in any way to cope!). Granted, if I could get general anesthesia for teeth cleaning I would take it......
But as I age, I find that I am in more or less chronic pain. I wake up feeling like a stale pretzel, usually an hour before I really need to get up, and I know where every muscle in my body is without checking. Once I get moving, and get busy, I usually will limber up to that I can do what I am called to do.
I have also fought depression much of my life. I consider myself a survivor - of what I am a survivor I choose not to speak - but I was not exactly born with a silver spoon in my mouth.
I recently read an excellent book. Amazing Grace for those who suffer is a collection of true stories about pain, suffering, survival, and faith. I found it to be much more helpful than the book When Bad things happen to good people, which is actually quite fatalistic and deistic. C.S. Lewis's book The Problem of Pain is supposed to also be quite good, but I must confess that I haven't read it.
(I have a very good friend who happened to be in the midst of reading The Problem of Pain when her appendix burst, requiring emergency surgery. As soon as she came out of anesthesia, her thoughtful husband brought in the book that she had been reading, much to the consternation of the nursing staff!)
Where was I? Oh, yes, on pain.
When I was younger, I did not understand a comment made by my mother-in-law to "offer it up" when pain was encountered. As I have studied and learned more about my adopted faith, I have come to see that pain and suffering are not necessarily evil, nor are they punishments for sin on the part of the individual. Rather, they are consequences of original sin, and they are also an opportunity to unite ourselves with Christ, who though sinless, experienced one of the more painful and shameful deaths possible, to redeem us from sin.
So this morning, even as I grabbed a few ibuprofen to make it possible to get through a tough day at work, I also offered up the pain I was feeling, for the souls of the unborn and their parents.


May I suggest Peter Kreeft's "Making Sense Out of Suffering"? It's an excellent book and he deals directly with a lot of the problems that a Catholic would have with "When Bad Things Happen to Good People."

Thanks for the heads up, Jeanetta. Glad to see that you are back on-line, too. The last few times I have tried to get to your blog I have run into problems.

yeah... blogger is being difficult :-P

I had a lot of problems with "When Bad Things Happen ..." too. One book that I have found helpful is "Where is God When It Hurts?" by Philip Yancey. He comes to many of the same conclusions that you mention in this post.

One of the points he makes is that God uses pain and suffering to help conform us to Christ's image. We really cannot be changed in any other way. How does he describe it? Like the world is a soul workshop, or something like that.

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This page contains a single entry by alicia published on September 5, 2003 10:40 PM.

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