Monday, December 17, 2018

How to not waste our pain.

Whenever we think of resources, what come to mind are energy resources like water, natural gas, oil, electricity or the sun’s rays.  But in the spiritual life, there is a resource that is often overlooked, underestimated and therefore unappreciated.  All of us have it in various forms, but the majority of us want to numb it, and find ways to avoid it.  Many go to Novenas and petition God to take it away from them, without realizing that it can do amazing things both for them, and for others.  What is it?  It is pain.

Yes, pain is a resource, but not in the normal sense of the word.  Natural resources are generally not good in themselves, except for water, I suppose.  But when harnessed, purified and applied with great effort, it can do wonders.  The same goes for our pain in life.  This pain or suffering comes in so many different forms for different people.  It could be physical pain that comes from being infirm, having an illness that is serious and perhaps even debilitating and terminal.  It could be an injury caused by an accident.  Sometimes it isn’t even something that has happened to you personally, but to a loved one or a family member, and there is absolutely nothing you or anyone can do about it but to live with this condition for the rest of your lives.  There are other pains and suffering that isn’t physical but mental, causing anguish of another form.  A betrayal by a spouse, a breakdown in friendship, a broken promise, or even a death of someone well loved.  All these are pains in forms that are not uncommon.  What is uncommon is when one knows how to turn these into resources usable by God for His will and purposes.

How does that work?  What are the mechanics involved?  Is it even a thing?  For those of us without faith, it doesn’t work, and it is not a thing.  It could even be tossed away as pure rubbish. But for those of us with faith, even if the faith were the size of a mustard seed, it can do wonders.  We only need to offer it up for God’s will to be done and to want it to benefit others in need of God’s grace.  This means that we surrender it lovingly to God.  It’s not something that we do in frustration and anger, and demand that God take it away.  Doing it with that kind of attitude would be much like bringing something that we don’t use and don’t like to a Goodwill store or the Saint Vincent de Paul thrift shop and dumping it there because we have no use for it.  

It’s got to be done with great love, and great faith, and in surrendering it to God, we place it as if on a silver platter, and tell God that this is something that I am not quite  sure of what I can do with it, but because he is God, he can make it good, usable, and benefit some soul who is in great need of his grace.  And the souls that can best benefit from these acts of love will be souls in purgatory who cannot purify themselves on their own.  They are purifying their love for God, which was in all likelihood very impure, very sullied and adulterated when they were alive. Our doing this for them helps them because in doing this with faith, we are at the same time purifying our love for God and for our fellow man, regardless of whether we know them or not. 

I love to tell the true story of how, when a priest whose arm was in a cast due to some accident, met the then Pope John Paul II in a private audience and had asked the Holy Father to bless him. The Holy Father looked at him, blessed him, and then told him “Father, don’t waste your pain”.  Puzzled, the priest asked him to elaborate.  The Pope replied that this pain of his is a resource that can benefit souls.  

Just tolerating pain, complaining about it, being bitter about it, or only asking that God take it away is the common thing that people do.  The Pope was reminding the priest that it is our duty as children of the Father and brothers and sisters of one another to bear our crosses for one another.  We need that same reminder from time t time, because if we are only thinking of ourselves most of the time, our world is too small.  We need to realise that we are part of a larger world, and this includes the church in its three states - the church militant, the church suffering and the church triumphant.  If we do this well, the world will definitely be a better place because it will make us more compassionate people, and we will populate the world with stronger images of Christ, an image so desperately needed in the world right now.

So, if you are in any sort of pain, suffering or anxiety in you life, don’t waste it.  With great love and with great faith, offer it up to God. He is God, and surely, he can turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse if he wills it.


  1. Thank you Fr. Luke, this reminder came at a good time for me.

  2. What an inspiring message. It makes us realize the terrible pain Jesus suffer n died to redeem us. Thank you Fr. Luke. God bless

  3. Dear Fr Luke,
    At one point, when I felt excruciating pain, it was natural that the focus was only on my own pain and how I could alleviate it. I didn’t know that the pain could be offered up to God for the good of those who are most in need of His mercy and souls in purgatory. I heard of this more than a year ago and I thank you for this. It does wonders and immediately soothes, I guess the focus shifts from self to other more needy souls is of great help.

    Also in Matt 11:28-30, Jesus says that His yoke is easy and burden light. If at all times, we remember to just lean on Him, love and trust Him, focus on conforming to God’s will for us, the pain too becomes bearable. Even amidst our pain, we will be able to rejoice knowing how much we are loved by God.