This was first published on my blog three years ago. With Lent approaching, I think it is a topic worth reviewing.
Early this morning, four o’clock, to be exact, I woke up with a raging headache. I made my way to the master bathroom to find some Excedrin, which I usually find effective for relieving my headache pain. But it would take time to bring relief. In the meantime, I went to the living room to sit quietly, because my head felt better in the horizontal than in a vertical position. In my misery I offered my pain to God as I had been taught to do as a school girl by my parents and Catholic school teachers, and have continued to practice from time to time throughout my life.
This spiritual practice of offering up one’s sufferings means joining oneself to the redemptive sufferings of Jesus on the Cross as a sacrifice to benefit the salvation of oneself and for the salvation of others. It’s true that Jesus suffered 2000 plus years ago, so perhaps it makes no sense to join one’s own sufferings here and now with His of long ago. My father explained that in God’s eye’s everything is now. There is no past, present or future, because God lives outside of time where He always was, always will be, and always remains the same. Admittedly that is hard to understand, but as a child there was much more that I didn’t understand than that I did understand. So, I trusted my parents and teachers to give me the truth. Now, of course, I get it.
Offering it up is Scriptural. Saint Paul alludes to the value of Christians joining their sufferings with those of Christ in Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is, the church, ….”
Being ill and suffering the pain of a migraine-type headache for about 12 hours made me think of those who have chronic illnesses and those who live with persistent pain on a daily basis. I keep them in my daily prayers and ask God to give them relief. I don’t know if something like that is in my future. Honestly, I hope not. But I pray that whatever afflictions lay ahead as I continue to grow old will give honor and glory to God and benefit the salvation of others.
Update: Recently, I came across this beautiful quotation from a holy saint.
“When we must do something we dislike, let us say to God, ‘My God I offer You this in honor of the moment when You died for me.’”