“It was our pain that he bore, our sufferings he endured.”[i]
I love being alive, body and soul. Sometimes, though, I think that my diseased, crippled body looks like it’s been tortured, left to collapse upon itself. And sometimes … well … it feels like a tortured, heavy burden to bear.
One of the most important things that I’ve ever learned in life, or that I can ever learn in life, is the infinite value of the crucifix. If anyone ever asks you — or if you yourself ever ask — how a loving God could allow human beings to suffer, look to the crucifix and contemplate the profound reality of Jesus Christ’s fully human and fully divine life.
I’ve been asked how I see God’s love in my suffering. This Lent, meditating upon God in the flesh, I am striving to answer this question through a series of reflections, hoping to continue to share the message at the heart of It’s Good to Be Here:
“How far does God go to prove His love for us, revealing the goodness of the gift of life? God comes down even into the very depths of our pain and sorrows, so far that He who is immortal tasted death in order to bring us back to true life. O most holy Wonder of wonders.”Christina Chase, It’s Good To Be Here. Sophia Institute Press.
Whatever I may be suffering in my little life, I know that God in the flesh is suffering with me. Almighty God did not deem human sorrow, weakness, or agony to be beneath His supreme dignity, but rather assumed them for Himself, fully living a little human life with all of its wonders and struggles, its joy and its pain. During the season of Lent, we strip away what is not important and embrace what is essentially and eternally important, just as Christ did. Ever mindful of the Incarnation and following His lead, let us meditate upon His Passion and Crucifixion and glimpse the infinite depths of divine love. For Almighty God loves us humans beings enough to become one of us and suffer with us, becoming intimately united with us and profoundly drawing us into His eternal life of love, now and forever.
For this week’s particular reflection on pain, I’m offering a very simple story from a little moment in my life to demonstrate the transformative power of Christ:
Due to my severe scoliosis and extreme weakness, I can only sit up in my wheelchair. I can’t say that I’m exactly comfortable in it, although I’m grateful for it. Thankfully, I do discomfort very well. I’m not so great, however, with pain. Thankfully (again), my genetic disease doesn’t create pain — I can’t feel the motor neurons deteriorating or muscles atrophying — but discomfort often leads to pain for me in my immobility. My body just doesn’t hang right. Bones rest on top of bones, organs and skin compress, and I must lie down frequently.
I don’t always want to lie down, however. I write better with my dictation system when I am sitting, and I can edit, research, send emails, and read reflections much more easily in my chair. So I often sit up too long, and that causes pain.
Recently, my legs were really hurting me. I would get a hard, aching pain all through both legs whenever I was sat up, a pain that continued while I was sitting. It felt deeply neurological, maybe from the advancement of my disease, maybe from not lying down to rest often enough, maybe a combination of both. I don’t know. I had never had this pain before. Was this my new normal? I wondered. Would it get worse? The pain was really bothering me, especially because I need to sit up even just to eat. Hurting and worrying, I was feeling sorry for myself, falling into self-pity.
But I choose love.
So I turned to Christ.
How His own legs must have horribly ached, with much more terrible pain, after He was mercilessly tortured and forced to carry the weight of the cross. Imagine… God in the flesh chose to know this pain, this pain that I was experiencing merely in part. With this remembrance, this remembrance of Christ’s willing and loving union with me, the pain was still there … but the suffering was not.
There was peace.
Human life is terribly beautiful, and God shows us that it is divinely worth living by coming down and living the entirety of human life Himself.
My thoughts turned to all of the people around the world who suffer much worse pain than I have, and who greatly suffer because they don’t turn to Love Incarnate and let God love them through the pain. In the peace of Christ’s intimacy, I offered a prayer for them, trusting in divine mercy and the healing power of God’s love.
“I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.”[i] When we are baptized, we are baptized into Christ. God in the flesh unites His suffering to ours and our sufferings to His so that we will never be without Him, never alone; so that we will always know divine love, no matter what; so that we will love as He loves and be able to rise up with Him — both now and forever.
© 2020 Christina Chase
[i] Isaiah 53:4
[i] Galatians 2:20
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.