“The LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights!” – Habakkuk 3:19
I do not have TFC (The Filipino Channel) at home so my dad records the healing masses for me. They bring comfort especially during times when I could not sleep and the devil distresses me with fearful imaginings.
The clergy who celebrate these Masses are all different. Fr Gomez broadens my mind with his teachings; Fr Nicasio brings nostalgic stories of local life; Fr Ladra ‘s faith in the healing love of Jesus is infectious; Bishop Ongtioco’s style invites energy.
Fr Jerry Orbos was absent for a while and so when he celebrated the Saturday Easter Vigil, I was glad. I care about Fr Jerry as during my young days as a student in the Philippines; he used to facilitate our recollection days. His sense of humour never failed to ignite laughter. He had been receiving treatment for lung cancer. During that Mass, he thanked the doctors who helped him.
Of course, Jesus remains his true healer. He said that cancer taught him a lot of things, including the redemptive value of suffering. It taught him to move on – not to be bogged down by hurting and being hurt. Life is too short and too precious to waste.
Pain and suffering remain a spiritual mystery. These touch both those closest to God and those far away from Him. When I am afflicted, I become a doubting Thomas, requiring a manifestation of God’s love to cope. When I came down with arthritic pain recently, I asked God what this was all about.
The Lord impressed upon me that the value of suffering comes through the lessons we learn from it. He took me back when I had dizzy spells for 10 years. I learned from this condition the value of humility and that strength in the Lord comes only from Him. I used to boast of being able to multi-task. The vertigo allowed me to do only one task at a time and to fully rely on His power. When He touched my eyes, He taught me the importance of using my sight for good, repent from arrogance, and not to be lured by vanity.
When He re-modelled my heart through chest pains, He showed me the refining virtues of mercy and compassion and to guard against fleshly ambition; to be less judgmental, to avoid envy, jealousy and develop full trust in Him.
When the Lord calls me to a task, I struggle before and after. The afflictions come in various forms. I need to kneel down and ask the Lord to give me strength. He always proves that things are accomplished, not by might but by His Spirit. Then I can praise Him more.
I agree with spiritual teachers who encourage to claim healing, deliverance, freedom from bondage through prayers and holding on to His Word and promises. This is what I do first, for affliction can come from different sources.
However, when pain and suffering become a message from above, as St Padre Pio writes,
“I do not love suffering itself, but I ask God for it. I desire it for the fruits it gives me; it gives glory to God; it saves my brethren in exile and it frees me from the fires of purgatory.”
St Padre Pio endured many illnesses, including his stigmata. He had cancer, and arthritis which plagued him in his later years and never went away. He also said: “The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain.”
I am praying for healing for this current discomfort to go away, for chronic pain is not a joy to live with. Meantime I know that my Lord is trying to tell me something very important and it is time to listen; another work of refining is on the way.
Dr David Jeremiah teaches: “If you feel lost in your circumstances, remember that God is looking down from above and it all makes perfect sense to Him. His handwriting has spelled out a perfect plan for you. Even when we don’t understand our circumstances, we can be confident in God’s grace and guidance.”
We do not always understand God’s ways, but if we trust Him, in our pain and in our joy, we can move with courage and go forward, respecting the ebb and flow of life, knowing God is watching.
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