With a hat tip to Carole King from 1975's "Really Rosie" by Maurice Sendak TV special for the title, I'm sufferin'. It is time to admit at least temporary defeat. My efforts at hanging out my own shingle have not proved fruitful. As they say, the fat lady hasn't sung, but she's warming up as sure as you're born. With a larger than usual family to support (and even if I had only a few mouths to support), I have to move on and get back into the for-hire workforce, and you cannot imagine how terrificly emasculating this feels. I had so wanted to make a go of it.
The blessing in all of this, however, is that it has given me the opportunity to love Jesus even more. That is the cloud's silver lining. While He chose the cross, He did not want the cross. And yet He accepted it as being the will of the Father. He told us that if we want to be His followers, we must pick up our cross daily and follow Him. The cross is not just a metaphor. It's not a toothpick. The cross is an instrument of death. It is the injection gurney at San Quentin. It is the electric chair.
So, as St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, we submit ourselves to being crushed like a grain of wheat, though humanly speaking it is not what we'd want. And it is in this way that we understand the full impact of what Paul writes about in Col 1:24: "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I make up for /complete (depending on your translation) what is lacking in Christ's afflictions ..."
What is lacking Christ's afflictions? Nothing. His was the "once for all" sacrifice that dismissed the need for further sacrifices. So what could the Apostle mean? And, really, what does the Holy Spirit (the Paraclete, after all, the helper/comforter Who will lead us into all truth) wish to teach us?
Simply that God in His ineffable mercy allows us to participate in the act of His redemptive suffering. Through suffering, he allows us to not only more fully accept and participate in the will of God the Father, to trust Him, to believe in His ultimate providence precisely because He is a loving Father, but He also gives us a glimpse into just how profound was Our Lords' capitulation to that will. Capitulation may not be the best term because it can conote a certain degree of unwillingness. But it was a total, abject surrender to that will. Nothing of self was left. As John Paul II wrote, it was free, faithful, total, and fruitful.
By mirroring this in our own acceptance of suffering (Job: "The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away: Blessed be the name of the Lord."), we have the opportunity to take part in God's redemptive plan. That's pretty awesome. It means our suffering isn't worthless. All "of us may add [our afflictions] to His, in order that the fruits of His redemption be applied to the souls of men." I admit that quote is inartfully and unsatisfyingly put, but its core hits the mark.
All of this is, however, difficult to keep in mind, putting it mildly. Comforting to recall, but when you have no money for next month's rent, very difficult to recall.
However, unlike past times in this situation, I have such a sense of peace about it. I know I'm in God's hands. He takes care of the sparrows and the lillies, so why not me? And because He knows what's best for me, can you imagine what a mess I'd have probably made of things were I given the sort of prosperity that would have made unnecessary the musings I've made here? We're not starving. We're not without shelter. We're not truly suffering in so many ways. It's 11th hour in so many ways, too, but it's not midnight. He has provided. He is providing. He will continue to provide. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Still, I need a job. Heaven helps those who help themselves, so hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to job hunt I go!
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