The Whole Offering
I, someone with a progressive disease, disabled since infancy and gravely dependent on others, have been told to offer up my sufferings to God, so that He will make something sublimely beautiful out of them. Shouldn’t I, however, offer up my whole life to God, so that He may bless and transform the entirety of my life, the entirety of my being, for the fulfillment of His divine plan? Don’t I want the whole of me to be rendered divinely beautiful, good, and true?
Previously, I’ve written about what’s considered to be the gift of suffering and how I don’t think of hardships and heartaches in precisely that way. I know that life is a gift.
Suffering is a gift. Comfort is a gift. Heartache is a gift. Delight is a gift. Pain and pleasure are both gifts, because they are part of life — and life itself is a gift, the gift given to us by God.
Should we offer up our sufferings to God, but keep all of our delights to ourselves? Delicious meals, comfortable beds, the beauty of a summer day, the fun of playing with children — these are gifts meant to be received and to be given, to be offered. Will we turn to God only in our sorrows and pain, but then seize upon every pleasure and joy to hold them to ourselves for ourselves, as though hoarding the delights and wonders of life?
In the good times, we may offer up thanks and praise to God, but do we offer up the good times themselves for the salvation of souls?
Yes, if we are thanking God for the joys, then we should also thank God for the sorrows. And if we ask God to receive our sufferings into His glory, then we should also ask God to receive our joys. God has given us the whole of our lives and has entered into the whole of our lives in order to be united with us always and everywhere.
After all, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”[i] This gift of God is the Mystery of the Incarnation — God among us — living and breathing in wonder and delight, sorrow and joy, pleasure and pain, ultimately giving Himself over to the Cross, to excruciating suffering and the end of His earthly life. If we are truly going to offer our pains and sorrows to Christ on the Cross, allowing Him (more on that in a future post) to unite our sufferings with His for the salvation of souls, then we must also offer our pleasures and joys to Christ in the manger, Christ at play, Christ reclining at dinner, Christ in the workshop, Christ gazing up at the stars, Christ enjoying His family and friends — because the whole of His life is the gift of Salvation. He is fully divine and fully human.
Let us embrace the whole of life as a gift from God, who gives of Himself completely so that we may know love. Let us love the Lord our God with everything that we have and everything that we are — offering both our pains and our pleasures as tribute to the Giver of Life, to God who is love entirely. Although it is easy to turn to God when we are hurt, when we are struggling and almost despairing, let us be ever mindful of God’s presence, of God’s desire to receive us wholly into His love when we are happy, when we are comfortable, when we are laughing. May all of our delights be worthy of divine joy, may we “hold back nothing of ourselves for ourselves, so that God who gives Himself totally to us may receive us totally.”[ii] Only then, will our lives be what they are fully meant to be: divine gifts.
© 2020 Christina Chase
“All for You, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.”Tweet
Feature Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash
[i] John 3:16
[ii] Letter to All Friars, St. Francis of Assisi
Christina Chase View All
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.
This needs to be said again and again. If we do not offer thanks for the good gifts we are given, we can take them for granted, as ours by right, and so abuse them that eventually the planet and all life suffer.
That’s a very good point! Gratitude and humility walk hand-in-hand in love. When we recognize that everything is a gift — that Earth in all its glory is a gift, that every human being is a gift — and give sincere thanks to the Giver, we better recognize our own sacred littleness in humble gratitude. We are sadly blind and deaf to the truth (perhaps even willfully, arrogantly stupid, dare I say) when we blow through or abuse our gifts expecting — demanding — that we be given more and more. And yes, we all suffer because of it. There is no joy without truth, and there is no real enjoyment without joy.
You said it much more succinctly! Thank you for reflecting with me!