It is an interesting fact that St. Bernadette Soubirous—the visionary through whom the Blessed Mother gave us a healing spring—suffered from poor health all her life.
When some visitors came to see Bernadette at the convent she later entered, they asked if she was aware of all the miraculous healings that were occurring at Lourdes. They wanted to know why she, the woman to whom the healing waters had been shown, did not receive healing there.
St. Bernadette replied calmly, “You see, my business is to be ill.”
This reply stupefied her visitors. Why didn’t the Lord heal the pious girl to whom His Mother had appeared? For His own mysterious reasons (which Bernadette accepted in faith), God did not miraculously cure her. Evidently, more grace would come through her illness—courageously borne—than through her health.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t seek relief and healing from physical and spiritual suffering. We are called to seek aid in all these things. We have a responsibility to do so. While any kind of suffering endures, however, it is a cross that we are called to carry.
Bernadette’s story is a simple reminder that suffering maintains an aura of mystery. We will not obtain a perfect comprehension of it on this side of paradise. There are certain experiences here on earth that will not “make sense” until we enter eternal life. Jesus’ own suffering remains mysterious to us.
We see mystery in our own suffering. We don’t usually know why we are facing a particular trial, nor do we understand how it will be of benefit to us. It’s also hard to describe it to others fully—God alone is intimate with our inmost pain. He is the only one who completely understands.
But that’s not the end of the story. God does miraculous things with our suffering. The suffering of His Son resulted in our redemption, and our own suffering, united to His, can work miracles of grace in our lives.
Suffering touches us all. Although we cannot escape it, we can embrace it. In The Mystery of Suffering, Benedictine monk Hubert van Zeller offers an eloquent response to the question of human suffering: those who endure suffering with hope and trust in Divine Providence will embark on an ever-deeper path to holiness that leads to eternal glory. This book is a great spiritual tool and a practical guide showing us how to unite our own sufferings with Christ, Who will redeem them. Order your copy today from The Catholic Company!