Her hands and feet were turning a grayish black color and they were drawing up to her body as if she were gasping for that last bit of oxygen she could pull in. Her face was starting to turn a dusky blue color. The hospital room quickly filled with doctors and nurses, then one doctor pulled a Bag Valve Mask off the wall and started pumping air into her mouth. I had seen enough episodes of Grey’s Anatomy to know that this was really bad. Questions were flying at us, we tried our best to answer. Then as quickly as she had entered the room she was rushed to the ICU where she would be put on a ventilator. I truly feared the worse for my precious Katie.
This summer, June 2014, the scene above resulted from a 2 1/2 hour long grand mal seizure and one lung collapsed after being crushed by her convulsing body. Why does Katie have to go through this after all she endures every day? Why does she have to suffer like this? It is a question that I can’t begin to answer! But I do know that after 4 days on a ventilator and 3 more days in ICU and the Step Down unit she came home. And within a few weeks she was completely back to her normal self. Our prayers were answered, just not according to our time frame.
So why was she spared, while other children die? Why do parents have to lose their children in horrible kidnappings? Why do some people suffer extremely painful diseases that lead to death? Why do innocent children die so often in school shootings? There is so much suffering in this world today. So if God is all powerful, which we know He is, then why doesn’t He spare us from this pain? Because it is part of His plan.
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
When I get weak and overwhelmed from caring for Katie, like this summer’s week long stay in the hospital, I ask God, “Why Me?” and He always says, “Why Not You? Are you better than Jesus Christ?” Jesus suffered tremendous physical and emotional pain while on this earth. And that pain and suffering led to something so unimaginable…Heaven opening up to us! Following are some excerpts from a pamphlet someone gave me titled Suffering, How to Make the Greatest Evil in Our Lives Our Greatest Happiness, by Father Paul O’Sullivan.
“Why does God allow us to suffer? Simply because He is asking us to take a little share in His Passion… God suffered all the dreadful pains of His Passion for each one of us. How can we refuse to suffer a little for love of Him?… If we accept the sufferings He sends us and offer them in union with His sufferings, we receive the greatest rewards. Five minutes’ suffering borne for love of Jesus is of greater value to us than years and years of pleasure and joy… Suffering borne patiently brings out all that is good in us… When God gives us any suffering, He always gives us strength to bear it, if we only ask Him. Many, instead of asking for His help, get excited and revolt. It is this excitement and impatience that really make suffering hard to bear… Even the greater sufferings that may fall to our share from time to time become easier to bear if we accept them with serenity and patience. What really makes suffering difficult to bear is our own impatience, our revolt, our refusal to accept it. This irritation increases our sufferings a hundredfold and, besides, robs us of all the merit we could have gained thereby… We may do all in our power to avoid or lessen our sufferings, but we cannot avoid all suffering. Therefore, it is clearly necessary for us to learn how to bear them.” Father Paul O’Sullivan
First of all, my greatest suffering comes from watching my child suffer, I am fully aware of the fact that I don’t know what true physical suffering is like at all. I know there is pain out there for which the depths I cannot even begin to imagine. Please know that I am only sharing sources that I have found comforting, I am not claiming to be an expert on the subject. But I can truly say that those words changed the way I look at suffering. I try now to stop myself and take a step back, to ask for help and help is always there. I think when we try to escape our sufferings we are actually punishing ourselves.
“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27
Another reason I think we suffer in this world is because of natural consequences. When God made Adam and Eve His plan was for them to stay holy and pure, but He gave them Free Will. We all know how well free will went for them, in no time they were chomping on that apple. We were all made exactly as Adam and Eve, God equipped us with everything we need to make the right choices in life, but he also gave us that darn free will. That free will is what so often get us in trouble. We want to do what feels right, what makes us happy right now. But that doesn’t always line up with what God wants and we sin.
As we fall there are natural consequences. Greedy business men put chemicals in our food to make them bigger, last longer and produce more money which leads to obesity, heart problems and I believe cancer and death, Natural Consequences. Sexual relations outside of marriage with multiple partners is portrayed as the norm and AIDS and STDs enter the world, Natural Consequences.
Because we want to gratify our every thought, we want more money, we want what we want, we want to avoid anything that is not comfortable we in turn create our own sufferings. God wants us to be like Him, putting good before evil, putting Him first. I believe there is beauty in suffering, God will bring good out of all suffering. Like someone dying a horribly painful death to cancer and then hundreds who loved that person gather every year to walk in her honor and raise money for her cause. Those loved ones were forever changed by her suffering, they use it to create good in the world.
We often lose sight of the fact that this life is only a blink of an eye compared to eternity. If we accept our sufferings on earth with grace and dignity we will be rewarded in heaven. I know one day Katie will be running, dancing and talking Gods ear off when she enters the gates of heaven.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18