“…through his suffering we are saved”

This passage comes to us from Carl McColman in his book, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality. It’s a great read if you have any interest in this particular expression of faith.

“It’s easy to approach faith from a narcissistic perspective, seeing God as a year-round Santa Claus who exists only to shower his blessings on those who love him; and prayer, therefore is merely the means for convincing God to bestow his favor on us. This kind of religion rejoices in the good times, but leads to despair and angst when times are tough. But Christ beckons us to leave behind our childish narcissism and to embrace the fullness of life – suffering as well as joy. This is one of the lessons encoded in the grisly, traumatic death of Jesus: through his suffering we are saved (made spiritually whole). Moreover, this salvation is not just some sort of promise for life after death; rather, it brings a blessing to us right here and right now – and right in the middle of our sufferings; he redeems it. In other words, he brings his presence into it and thereby transforms it from pointless pain to a smaller part of a larger, meaningful whole. A woman in the pain of childbirth can bear her suffering because she knows it leads to the joy of giving birth and welcoming her new child into the world. In the mystery of Christ, we see that all suffering has the potential to be a “birth” experience – giving birth to a newfound appreciation of God’s presence and of his ability to turn anything, no matter how bad or painful, into a new possibility where divine love and presence can shine forth.”

There is no such thing as a pain-free or suffering-free life. These things come with the territory. No one wants to suffer. But our God made sure that for those who put their trust in God, our suffering is redeemed. Its presence is given a contextual significance that makes it “not for nothing” for those who live their lives in right relationship with God. Jesus showed us the way.

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