Suffering with Purpose

All of us experience suffering in life: emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually. What can we do when life throws the unexpected at us?

Jeff Cavins

For thirty years, Jeff has dedicated his life to developing The Great Adventure, the visually engaging and interactive Bible study system that enables students to understand the chronological flow of Scripture. As the founding host of EWTN’s Life on the Rock, he has been recognized both nationally and internationally as an exciting public speaker who has a deep love for Jesus Christ and who communicates his zeal with clarity and enthusiasm. Jeff, his wife Emily, and their daughters live in Minnesota.

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  • Marianne

    I love the words of JP2 on Redemptive Suffering (Salvifici Doloris):
    “It is suffering, more than anything else, which
    clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls. Suffering, more than anything else, makes present in the history of humanity the powers of the Redemption… Those who share in the sufferings of Christ preserve in their own sufferings a very special particle of the infinite treasure of the world’s Redemption, and can share this treasure with others.”

    St. Paul recognized the value of his suffering, though like most humans it took a little while as he pleaded with the Lord to take it away.

    “Therefore… a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he 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. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

    I read a beautiful story just this morning in one of those Chicken Soup for the Soul books “Answered Prayers”. The man had cerebral palsy and while on a tour of the Holy Land, he prayed for healing while on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He prayed, “Lord, this is the place where You called some of Your disciples to follow You. I want to follow You too. Heal me of this handicap so that I may serve you better.” At that moment, he felt God’s presence and a tiny voice penetrated his spirit, saying, “Larry, I really love you just the way you are”. He asked the Lord, “can You use my life more effectively for Your kingdom just the way I am?” It occurred to him that God would use his
    disability, his weakness, for His glory.

    For me, I was like a little like St. Paul and like Larry. “Lord, help me so that I can serve You better.” One morning as I was reading and praying, I came across a Psalm commentary and a daily devotional which both mentioned 2 Corinthians 12:7. It was the day I was scheduled to do my very first reading as a lector at my church. A friend of mine called and asked me if I had a preference to read the first or the second reading. When I looked it up, lo and behold, the second reading of the day was 2 Corinthians 12!

    I did not receive a physical healing, but I did receive an emotional healing that led to a complete change in my life. And though I’m still not physically strong, my motto has become “I’m going to be tired anyway, so I might as well get something accomplished”.

    Jeff poses the question, what can we do when life throws the unexpected at us? I’ve immersed myself in “giving back” for all that God has given me, in restoring my life and opening up new doors, new
    challenges, and new opportunities. I put my trust in the Lord, seek to do His will, and obediently “say yes” to whatever comes my way. And “whatever I do, I do
    everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

  • pnkyB4brain

    My twins are both suffering from different forms of cancer. I question ‘what did I do wrong’ as a parent because I am so much in the dark about this new development that has rocked the very essence of my foundation.
    I am not angry with God. However, I sorely wish He could shed some light upon this dilemma. My suffering is miniscule to what Jesus went through. I need to be reminded of that fact time and time again. I must admit I really wish I had more than a human mentality so that I could comprehend what is happening. My girls are precious and wonderful and my heart breaks a bit more when they are suffering. I cannot begin to comprehend how Mary felt during Jesus’ trial, scourging and crucifixion.
    May God forgive me for being so selfish.

    • Jose Samilin

      Hi pnkyB4brain, my sufferings just like you have filed up and came when less expected as a man with family wounded with sin too. So I turned back to God for an answer and searched the Scripture. Ecclesiastes 3: 10-11, I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Yes, sharing my suffering in brief: Dec. 25, 2001, happiest time when the Lord reconciled the family for long time of grievances, then 6 months later, my beloved mother past, the next months, my beloved son, 16 at that time past in a drowning accident, then a year follows my only daughter diagnosed 80% AML Leukemia cancer, six months after my daughter’s successful steam cell transplant, I the father had a stroke, my permanent condition now as disabled stroke survivor for almost ten years now. I am stuck to the ground my 3 years in a row sufferings. But yes here what the Lord says, Ecclesiastes 3.1 There is time for everythingThere is a time for everything,
      and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die,

      • pnkyB4brain

        Thank you again for your gracious words. My strength is in the Lord but at times it falters. Then despair sets in. My emotions consist of hills and valleys and I am always climbing to get to the spot that brings me closer to God. Some days my climbing is but a crawl and other days I leap and run to reach my goal. I guess that is my human way of working on problems where I have no control. When I am crawling into a valley, I am attempting to wrestle “control” over something that I cannot grasp. Thus the valley I create can really become deeper than what it really is. I really need to work on my attitude towards life.
        I mourn for your losses. As you said there is a time for everything. I had forgotten about this wonderful reading from Ecclesiastes. Thank you again for reminding me. (I also enjoy the song by the Byrds; “Turn, Turn; Turn”)

        • Jose Samilin

          You’re most welcome. Merry Christmas to you and your whole family. We always thank the Lord at all time, be it in happiness and in sufferings as our sufferings are our share of Jesus suffering on the cross. Yes, in our baptism we were born anew and die with Him.

    • Gig Rose

      When my third daughter was 8 months old she became very ill and was hospitalized, I was overcome with fear. “What if she dies,” I asked my husband. He responded, “She belongs to God, He gave her to us and He may take her away.” She did recover from that illness but I have always remembered that, God loves our children more than we do and wants what is best for them and us.

      • pnkyB4brain

        Thank you for such a poignant phrase your husband said. It really means so much. May God bless.