Scripture for meditation: Job 1:20-22
Then Job began to tear his cloak and cut off his hair He cast himself prostrate upon the ground, and said, “Naked came I forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.
Scripture for reflection: Luke 12: 8-10
“I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men – The Son of Man will acknowledge him before the angels of God. But the man who has disowned me in the presence of men will be disowned in the presence of the angels of God.”
St. Theresa of Avila tells us: “For sometimes it seemed that sharp teeth were biting into me…. With the continuous fever and the great lack of strength…I was so shriveled and wasted away…that my nerves began to shrink causing such unbearable pains that I found no rest either by day or by night – a very deep sadness…. The pains were what exhausted me, for they were like one continuous entity throughout my whole body, from head to foot. Pain of the nerves is unbearable, as doctors affirm, and since my nerves were all shrunken, certainly it was a bitter torment…. I remained in this excruciating state no more than three months, for it seemed impossible to be able to suffer so many ills together. Now I am amazed; and I consider the patience His Majesty gave me a great favor from the Lord, for this patience was clearly seen to come from Him. It greatly profited me to have read the story of Job…for it seems the Lord prepared me by this means, together with my having begun to experience prayer, so that I could be able to bear the suffering with so much conformity to His will. All my conversations were with Him. I kept these words of Job very habitually in my mind and recited them: Since we receive good things from the hand of the Lord why do we not suffer the evil things? This, it seems, gave me great strength (The Collected Works of St. Theresa of Avila, Volume One, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D., and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D., Institute of Carmelite Studies Publications, 1987).
Prayer: O Lord, I confess Your great power. If You are powerful, as You are, what is impossible for you who can do everything? Please, my Lord, give the order, give the order, for although I am miserable, I firmly believe You can do what You desire. And the more I hear of Your greater marvels, and consider that You can add to them, the more my faith is strengthened; and I believe with greater determination that You will do this. What is there to marvel at in what the Almighty does? You know well, my God, that in the midst of all my miseries I never failed to acknowledge Your great power and mercy. May that in which I have not offended You, Lord, help me. Recover, my God, the lost time by giving me grace in the present and future so that I may appear before You with wedding garments; for if You want to, You can do so.
My thoughts: Like many of us, St. Theresa of Avila led a very painful life. Unlike many of us, she never once lost her vision of her loving Father through all her pain and torment. Like Job, she remained faithful and never said anything “disrespectful of God.” St. Theresa of Avila is a doctor of the Church; she passed through her intense illnesses and went on to become a saint. So can we. When the great deceiver tries to lead us astray by telling us this horrible suffering is because God has abandoned us, tell him to go back to his horrible home. Claim the Lord’s love for you, ask Him for strength to hang on, receive the Sacrament of the Sick, and call into your life other people who can pray for you when you can’t. Most importantly, offer up the suffering for some cause. St. Theresa, in this book, states that she wishes she had caught on the redemptive aspect of suffering a little sooner. God never gives us more than we can handle; just hold onto His hand and let others help you as well. We all need help in our times of suffering. Be there for others, and let others be there for you. And never stop believing in God. He will never stop believing in you.