• Sarah Raad


Suffering is the means of emptying ourselves of ourselves so as to make room for the Almighty God, because even God Himself cannot fill that which is already full.

Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary (Raphael)

My younger son is a very sensitive child can become annoyed by particular sounds. One of the sounds that really causes him some discomfort and annoyance is the rustling sound that a windcheater makes as the fabric rubs against itself when you move while wearing it (it is the same rasping sort of sound that baking paper makes when you cut it from the roll).

As part of his school’s winter uniform my son wears a jumper, and if he is still cold, he can wear a windcheater on top of that jumper. But, because he feels very uncomfortable with the sound that his windcheater makes while he is wearing it and moving around, right at the beginning of winter he tried to avoid wearing the windcheater altogether. Now, because I was a child who did not wear my school jumper during winter because I could not stand the itchy wool, I completely understand my son’s discomfort. However, my poor son is equally uncomfortable in the cold as he is while listening to the rustling sound of his jacket, and so – eventually – he had to make a choice about what to wear. Finally, he decided that it was more comfortable to bear the annoying sound of the windcheater provided he remained warm, than to refuse to wear the windcheater and freeze all day at school.

And I have been reflecting on this experience of my son during winter because it reminds me of suffering. You see, just as my son is uncomfortable hearing the rustling sound of the windcheater each time he moves during the day, we too are uncomfortable when we suffer. And yet, suffering is like that windcheater because it serves a very important purpose.

You see, without the suffering we cannot atone for our sin and imperfection and we cannot prepare ourselves for Heaven… And when a soul understands this truth, then – and only then – do they become like my son, who understood that the discomfort of the sound of his windcheater was LESS than the discomfort of the cold without it. In other words, when we understand the PURPOSE of suffering is to grow closer to God, we can not only accept it, but we can EMBRACE it for the GREATER good and the ETERNAL REWARDS it merits...

Have you ever wondered why some souls bear terrible crosses and horrible anguish, and yet – even in the midst of all their pain and suffering – they remain JOYFUL? This is not to say that their suffering is less. No. It is MORE than I could ever imagine or empathise with, and yet, they are able to bear it – and oftentimes EMBRACE IT – JOYFULLY…


Because such souls as those see suffering as one step more on the journey to sainthood, just as my son sees the annoying noise with his windcheater as a necessary inconvenience to being warm…

And that is how the Saints understand the paradox of suffering, which is how they can experience such joy in their suffering…

You see, suffering is the means of emptying ourselves of ourselves so as to make room for the Almighty God, because even God Himself cannot fill that which is already full.

And in understanding the nature of the task at hand, it is no wonder at all, that suffering souls can be joyful. All the remains for me, is to roll up my sleeves and embrace whatever suffering God chooses to send to me. After all, there is work yet to be done on my journey to Calvary to meet my Beloved… There is much work for me to do!

And I plan on dancing with the joy of the saints along the way, if only I could be a little less sensitive…

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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