At times we must also take responsibility for our own health, and not blame God, when through bad decisions or bad habits we become ill. For instance, smoking is now well known for causing cancer, and other complications. Abusing alcohol will also hold serious consequences when it comes to the liver and brain. Food too can be hazardous when we overeat the wrong foods which can lead to obesity, and the ensuing complications that goes with it. If we behave immorally and lead a dissolute life then we also open ourselves to other diseases that will attack our body.
But when illness does strike, then God will not let us think that we have become `useless' and a `burden', instead He leads us into expiation and reparation for our sins and the sins of others. For nothing we do is `useless' to our Father in Heaven, and everything is `gift' to Him who needs us not, yet longs for our love with the deepest of yearnings. God will help us as we suffer to join Jesus in the redemptive power of the suffering soul to intercede and in reparation offer our sufferings to Him, who is all Powerful, for the salvation of souls. That great Saint and Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila understood totally the Gift that can be reparative suffering for as she wrote, "Lord, either to suffer or to die....Oh, my Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value."
Suffering only becomes a useless thing when we do not utilise the redemptive qualities of illness, and choose to resent rather than consent on this painful journey of total dependence on our Loving Father. God legitimises suffering as Holy, thereby bestowing and restoring our uniqueness and our value in His Loving Plan for the redemption of all men.
So illness in itself is not a gift from God, but it can be our gift to Him, when we incorporate the self sacrifice of the One who showed the Way, to pick up our cross, and with courage and fortitude, say as did our Lord, "not my will, but Your Will be done"…even it is one step at a time. As Mother Teresa explained to those who did not understand the connection between suffering people and how God can use our own pain and anguish for His Glory, expressed it this way, "Without our suffering, our work would be just social work - it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption."
As our society leans more and more towards a culture of death we can see the aspect of souls lost due to those who refuse the Gift of suffering and instead choose to end their lives not in an act of 'mercy killing' but in a spirit of despair that has locked God out of the equation.
If through illness you are unable to visit the sick or give of your time to the lonely, do not despair or feel worthless. Instead embrace your cross and unite your suffering with the Man of Sorrows on behalf of sinners, just as the Master did before you.
To suffer for loves sake is to become one with the Divine, an embrace of unequal love as God lifts us to Himself as He immerses us in the fiery depths of His Tremendous Love.
Written by Marie