Something to think about | I recall a young woman who was in a wheelchair. Having broken her neck, she was completely paralysed, without feeling or skin sensation from the shoulders down. She looked after herself in her own flat (it took her two hours to get dressed), drove across London each day and did a nine to five-thirty job, after which she was too exhausted to do anything but sleep. She rejoiced in her independence, “For me it is the most wonderful and unbelievable thing. Every morning when I wake up, I think, another day! I’ve made it!” To find hope and joy in the midst of affliction, rather than stoicism or mere patient endurance — that is the ultimate achievement of faith.
The paradox remains. We must continue to fight suffering, yet we must also be prepared to see in it a loving principle of renewal. We come to know our dependence and our helplessness and to recognize that we cannot save ourselves. When it is our turn, no one can persuade us that our own pain is not naked and raw. Pain, whether mental or physical or the spiritual pain of the dark night of the soul, hurts like hell and anyone who denies it is a fool and a hypocrite. But we can’t run away from it, and in it lies the possibility of redemption for ourselves and for others if we can say, “For what it’s worth, take it, God, and use it. Use it to make me grow in compassion. Use it any way you will.” We may utter such a prayer through clenched teeth, it may be dragged out of us, but if we can hope one day to mean it, we are halfway to humility.
Suffering–Our Human Condition