How to Suffer Well

Last month I was fortunate enough to hear Father Spitzer speak on suffering. It just so happens that today’s first reading is about suffering as well. So, I thought I would share some key takeaways from the talk.

Each year, for the past few years, I have been invited to hear Father Spitzer give various talks. He is genius level smart, in my opinion. Witty, humble, and very entertaining are among other attributes I give to this clever priest. I always leave his talks uplifted and knowing much more than when I arrived. If you are not familiar with him or his books, I encourage you to look him up.

On Suffering

Father emphasized there are five steps to suffering well. The first is to have the resurrection perspective. Jesus died and rose. We, too, will die and live an eternal life. When we focus on the fact that this earthly life is finite, our perspective of suffering adjusts. Earthly suffering is temporary.

Next, make use of spontaneous, short prayers. He has just a few words he says again and again to God throughout the day as his spontaneous prayer. I recently read an article about Ven. Fulton Sheen when he told a dying man to say, “My Jesus, Mercy.” God doesn’t need long, extravagant dialogue.

Thirdly, we need to control our fear and anxiety. Instead of focusing on the worst-case scenarios and what ifs, use “rational enterprise.” Ask questions. Also, think about solutions instead of bigger problems.

The fourth and perhaps the one I relate to the most, is looking at the opportunities of suffering. I think the more we grow in our relationship with God and in our faith, we realize how much our own sufferings can be united to Christ’s sufferings. We can use suffering as a means for prayer and offering. My mother spent countless days sayings, “Offer it up.”

Finally, follow the Holy Spirit. Father Spitzer said that when God closes one door, another is opening. Look for the new opportunity and then discern if it is what you are meant to do. God usually places a desire on your heart. Pay attention to that. He recommends the Ignatian Discernment method. Is your trust, hope, and love increasing or decreasing?

The Psalm for today is, “In God is my safety and my glory.” Rest in that truth, friends. It is all for your good and His glory. May our suffering grow us closer to the kingdom. Suffer well.

[Readings: Col1:24–2:3; Lk 6:6-11]

Joanne Huestis-Dalrymple

Joanne Huestis-Dalrymple is a freelance writer residing in Wake Forest, NC. She is a wife and mother of eight, plus two in heaven. Joanne coaches the St. Thomas More Academy swim team and is a member of the school’s CrossFit team. Joanne has a devotion to our Blessed Mother and she enjoys reading, writing, gardening and going on adventures with her big family.

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