Jesus Christ suffered and died to gain for us an incomparable victory.
The kingdom He won for us is an everlasting one, the nature of which is to exist in our hearts and minds so that, at the appointed time, we may be found worthy to exist in IT for all eternity. The price of this victory was and continues to be, suffering.
Much has been said and written about the mysterious nature of suffering. Some of that mystery evaporates in the light of Revelation.
We all know that pain is sometimes necessary, not to mention of considerable value, when, for example, it warns us of far more serious problems to which we can then respond with medical or surgical procedures.
Pain can also be the price we are willing to pay in order to bring about a greater good such as would be the case if we suffered burns while saving someone from a fire.
But what of the pain that so often accompanies old age and disability? What of the pain of loneliness or of unrequited love or the pain of arthritis, cancer and dementia?
How about the pain suffered by the loving caregiver who feels helpless and heartbroken? All are examples of pain that we often label as being senseless, cruel and undeserved.
Can we not include in this category the pain Jesus felt during His Passion and death; from His deep-seated fear in the Garden of Gethsemane to His last tormented breath?
"But, you will say, Jesus chose to suffer and die this way. He was a willing lamb led to the slaughter!" You are right!
Jesus chose to suffer because He believed suffering to have the potential to be a powerful expression of loving commitment.
And... when He chose to live on, in and through us, He endowed our suffering with the same potential.
That is the FACT... an element of MYSTERY remains.
What all this means is that you can consciously link your suffering to that of Jesus. Your suffering can have the same value as His. In other words, You can be part of the whole Divine plan of salvation. Can it happen without you? Yes, but it would be somehow less complete... your active presence is requested. Your baptism was your formal invitation.
This understanding of suffering in no way devalues the various medical responses to the many faces of pain. These too are blessings.
Rest assured, we will all have adequate opportunity to lovingly offer our suffering in union with Christ.