I’m wading through water up to my chest on what used to be our road. The rain over the last week has flooded the river, along with all the houses and plantations of our friends and neighbors. There are rocks in my shoes and the weight of the food basket is starting to cut into my neck and shoulders, but you know what’s really crazy? There’s a smile on my face and a profound peace in my heart.
We live in a fallen, messy world. It is full of sin, suffering, tragedies and things that just don’t make sense. Everyone suffers, period. Either mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually to some degree. It is an unfortunate and brutal part of this life and we can try all we want to avoid it but we can never really escape it. So instead of trying to escape it why not lean into it? Why not embrace it with Jesus and offer it with love for others? It may not change your circumstance but it will change your perspective and a beautiful thing will start to happen, you will be filled with joy and peace.
I think when we are confronted with suffering we often ask God why? Why is this happening to me? Why is this happening to the ones I love? Why now? We are humans, and we always have the desire to understand, but I think there are other questions we need to ask like how and what. How can I help? How can I offer this with love for others? What do you want me to learn from this experience?
Suffering is like a storm that tries to sink your life-boat and drown your joy and your peace. But Jesus is Lord, even in the midst of the storm and His “grace is more than enough, His power is made perfect in our weaknesses” (2 Cor 12:9). He may not take the pain away, but I promise you, He will fill you with love and joy and peace if you invite Him into your boat.
Love, joy, and peace are the first 3 fruits of the Holy Spirit who is given to us who is called the Helper and the Counselor (Gal 5:22, John 15:26, 16:7). So if you are suffering, bitter, disappointed, angry, depressed, afraid, weak, confused, worried, crying out to God WHY, call upon the Holy Spirit that he may help you receive the strength of a new perspective, a new peace, and a new joy in the midst of the suffering.
I was concerned about how the retreat guests who were staying with us were going to cross the river and get home. My friends’ properties were completely flooded and I’m still not sure how bad the damage has been on the houses. We had even planned to host a basketball tournament for the weekend, but that was canceled too. Things were not going according to plan at all and the water was getting higher.
Then something changed, and it wasn’t the storm or the flood, it was my perspective, my attitude. I stopped trying to figure out why and started asking God who I could offer this for, and how He was asking me to help. I began to pray the Fiat of the Blessed Mother over and over again. Fiat…fiat…fiat. She didn’t need to figure out why, in the suffering of losing her only Son. She prayed and lived a perfect Fiat to the Father. Fiat volúntas tua, sicut en caelo et en terra. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
She prayed it the night she conceived Jesus, she prayed it again when she and St. Joseph had to leave their home and flee to Egypt to escape King Herod’s massacre. She prayed it again when she was separated from Jesus for 3 days and didn’t know where He was. She prayed it in the midst of all her sorrows, but most of all, she prayed it with Jesus when He offered His life for us on the cross. She is the only one who lived a perfect Fiat and with the Father she too can say “I so loved the world, I gave my only Son, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
She is no stranger to pain and neither is her Son. Jesus did not turn away from our suffering; He embodied it. He brought it into his own being, “He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). He is no far off, distant God who enjoys seeing people suffer and “smiting” them when they do wrong. He does not send the wind and waves of suffering; He commands them to cease. He is love and mercy itself and “Came not to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28). And “We know love by this, that he has laid down his life for us and we also should lay down our lives for our brothers” (I John 3:16).
With God not all things are easy, but, “all things are possible” (Matt 19:26).
We made it to the house and we even started having fun. The food made it back to the community safe and dry and a neighbor came by boat to take the girls all the way back to the bridge where they were able to drive home.
Life is going to send some storms, but Jesus will always send out the life-boats of love, joy, and peace. Ask Him for the grace of understanding to know how you can become a boat, an instrument of the Helper and Comforter, for others. And don’t forget to wear crocs, not only are they water-proof, they are also extremely comfortable and fashionable.
To read more from Brother Dom, here are his other contributions to #OurBlog: