I must admit, if ever I were to come down with a serious illness, I would be the biggest baby you ever saw. I don’t think I’d be good at enduring pain. Patient suffering is not my strong suit.

St. Gertrude, on the other hand, was cut from a different cloth. She suffered tremendously throughout her entire life. Makes you wonder why was she chosen to suffer so much…or why our loved ones and dear friends are similarly chosen. Or is any of us really “chosen” to suffer, at all?

In one of her writings, Gertrude shed some light on suffering and some intriguing comments from Jesus about how suffering plays a role in the lives of everyone…

During the seventh illness of St. Gertrude, as her mind was occupied with God on a certain night, Our Lord approached her and said to her with extreme sweetness and charity: “Tell Me, my beloved, that you languish for the love of Me.”

She replied, “How can I, a poor sinner, presume to say that I languish for love of Thee?”

Our Lord answered, “Whoever offers himself willingly to suffer anything in order to please Me, he truly glorifies Me, and in glorifying Me, tells Me that he languishes for love of Me, provided that he continues to be patient and never turns his eyes away from Me.”

“But what advantage can you gain from this assurance, my Beloved Lord,” inquired the Saint.

The Lord answered, “This assurance imparts joy to My Divinity, glory to My Humanity, pleasure to My eyes, and satisfaction to my ears. Further, the unction of My love is so powerfully moved thereby that I am compelled to heal the contrite heart–that is to say, those who desire this grace; to preach to those who are in captivity—that is, to pardon sinners; to open the door to those who are in prison—that is, to release the souls in purgatory.”
–The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great

Resolution: Today I want to rethink this pain and suffering thing. There’s so much more to it than I had ever imagined. How often, Lord, we let our pains and sufferings attack us without gain. In self-pity we cry out to You, ”Why me, O Lord?” But the Unexpected Consequence of suffering is that, when we willingly and consciously offer it to God to do with according to His Will, He turns our meager offering into joyous gifts of love and mercy for countless souls everywhere. The pain and suffering that we so dread…are in truth fast tracks up the Mountain of Holiness.

Lord, grant us the gift of understanding that we may recognize the hidden graces and opportunities you send us in the smallest things, in unpleasant things, and yes, even in pain.