At home we have a quote on our refrigerator: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It is thought to have been written by Scottish minister and author John Watson under his pen name, Ian MacLaren. Watson died in 1907. Regardless of who wrote it, it rings true.
These days, everyone is fighting a hard battle. Our faith claims that God is present with us precisely in these hard battles; that God is working through our pain and suffering. In “The Sacred Wound,” Franciscan friar and author Richard Rohr writes:
Pain teaches a most counterintuitive thing—that we must go down before we even know what up is. It is first an ordinary wound before it can become a sacred wound. Suffering of some sort seems to be the only thing strong enough to destabilize our arrogance and our ignorance. I would define suffering very simply as “whenever you are not in control.”
Ah, now that sounds familiar… Rohr continues:
All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. If your religion is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk religion. It is no surprise that a crucified man became the central symbol of Christianity.
If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter—because we will be wounded. That is a given. All suffering is potentially redemptive, all wounds are potentially sacred wounds. It depends on what you do with them. Can you find God in them or not?
If there isn’t some way to find some deeper meaning to our suffering, to find that God is somehow in it, and can even use it for good, we will normally close up and close down, and the second half of our lives will, quite frankly, be small and silly.
Our challenge is to allow God in, especially in those broken places, where we’ve endured setbacks and known personal disappointments, to invite God’s love to transform us; to make us more loving.
The Apostle Paul knew about this personally from his many trials and tribulations. In 2 Corinthians he writes:
But the Lord said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me (2 Corinthians 12:9).
This fall, may we be open to Christ’s liberating, transforming work in and through our struggles and wounds, taking a leap of faith to trust that the power and love of Christ dwell in us; yes, in us!
Here is a prayer I offer as a pathway for your peace and healing-
Dear Lord, thank you for this particular moment. A unique moment in time to release to you what worries me today and what is weighing me down. Walk with me along this path, carry me if need be. Be with me as I invite you to work in and through my wounds and broken places. Amen.
How does carrying the awareness that everyone is fighting a hard battle shift how you see your life and those around you? What hard battle can you offer to God right now, with your next breath? Let us know in the comments below.
-Written by Ann Palmerton
Did you enjoy this blog post? Be sure to leave a comment and share the link with your friends on Facebook!