Suffering, whether it is physical, mental, emotional, or moral, has been part of the human experience ever since Adam and Eve committed the first sin. Throughout the Old Testament, and even up to today, humans have cried out to God, asking Him that if He is so good, then why does He allow all this suffering to happen? They come to the conclusion that suffering is a punishment for sin, whether it is because of their own transgressions or the sins of their ancestors, or even worse, that God is not powerful enough to stop this evil. These attitudes are most evident In the Book of Job, which challenges this idea because God confirms that Job is innocent and does not deserve punishment. If that is the case, then why do good people suffer?
God finally answers that question by giving us His Son, Jesus, who was without sin – the spotless Lamb. Christ was well-acquainted with human suffering: He was often around the suffering and the sick, and He became a target of hostility and betrayal. Jesus also spoke of his suffering to His Apostles many times, and rebuked Peter when he tried to prevent Him from facing His destiny: the Cross. Jesus faced this suffering with full knowledge, in full obedience to His Father. Christ addressed not just our temporal suffering but our eternal suffering as well. By dying on the Cross, he paid the price for our sins, and by rising from the dead, Christ conquered death and gave us the hope of eventually rising from the dead.
Although Christ’s redemptive work does not abolish temporal suffering for us, it does shine a redemptive light on it. Throughout the New Testament, we are told that if we want to participate in Christ’s glory, we must first take up our crosses and bear them with love, as Jesus did. Just as Christ suffered for all of us, we too are called to suffer for others as well, so that we might all share in the redemption that was gained through suffering.
It is true that suffering IS a trial, but through our weakness, the glory and power of God is made manifest: “Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:8-10).
Suffering can also lead to endurance and hope: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
Additionally, suffering can be a source of joy because, with its redemptive feature, it is no longer an experience of uselessness or burden but rather provides an opportunity for grace. Our own sufferings can lead to compassion and respect for others who are suffering, which in turn leads to solidarity and communion among those who suffer. By uniting our sufferings to the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross, we participate in His redemptive suffering for us and all of humanity. It also imparts a grace which draws a person close to Christ, resulting in a deep conversion by which the person is changed to the core.
Christ’s words in Matthew 25:37-40 provide a final perspective on suffering: “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’” in ministering to one who is suffering, we are ministering ultimately to Christ. All human suffering is an opportunity to serve Christ as we ought, which will be taken into account in the Final Judgment. Human suffering is revealed to be a conduit of grace, both for the one suffering and the one who ministers.
For more information on Redemptive Suffering, visit https://www.redemptivesuffering.org/index.html
Prayer during sickness or trial
O good Jesus, I accept willingly this sickness [or trial] which it has pleased You to lay upon me. I confide all my pains to Your Sacred Heart, and beg You to unite them with Your bitter sufferings, and thus perfect them by making them Your own.
Since I cannot render You the praise due to You because of the multitude of my sorrows and afflictions, I ask You to praise God the Father for all I suffer, with the same tribute of praise You offered Him when Your agony on the Cross was at its height.
As You thanked Him with all the powers of Your soul for all the sufferings and injustice which He willed You should endure, so, I pray You, give Him thanks for my trials also. Offer my sufferings, physical and spiritual, to Him together with Your most holy pains, to His eternal honor and glory. Amen.
Prayer to accept suffering
Jesus, You suffered and died for us. You understand suffering. Teach me to understand my suffering as You do; to bear it in union with You; to offer it with You to atone for my sins and to bring Your grace to souls in need.
Calm my fears; increase my trust. May I gladly accept Your holy Will and become more like You in trial. If it be Your Will, restore me to health so that I may work for Your honor and glory and the salvation of all. Amen.
Prayer in Time of Suffering
Behold me, my beloved Jesus, weighed down under the burden of my trials and sufferings, I cast myself at Your feet, that You may renew my strength and my courage, while I rest here in Your Presence. Permit me to lay down my cross in Your Sacred Heart, for only Your infinite goodness can sustain me; only Your love can help me bear my cross; only Your powerful hand can lighten its weight. O Divine King, Jesus, whose heart is so compassionate to the afflicted, I wish to live in You; suffer and die in You. During my life be to me my model and my support; At the hour of my death, be my hope and my refuge. Amen.
Resignation to Suffering
(by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque)
My Savior! I cheerfully accept all the painful dispositions, in which it is Your pleasure to place me. My wish is in all things to conform myself to Your holy will. Whenever I kiss Your cross, it is to show that I submit perfectly to mine. Amen.
Prayer for a Sick Person
Almighty and Eternal God, You are the everlasting health of those who believe in You. Hear us for Your sick servant (name) for whom we implore the aid of Your tender mercy, that being restored to bodily health, he (she) may give thanks to You in Your Church. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for the Sick Near Death
Almighty and Everlasting God, preserver of souls, who corrects those whom You love, and for their betterment You tenderly chastise those whom You receive, we call upon You, O Lord, to grant Your healing, that the soul of Your servant (name), at the hour of its departure from the body, may by the hands of Your holy Angels be presented without spot unto You. Amen.
Consecration of the Sick to Mary
O kind and good Mother, whose own soul was pierced by the sword of sorrow, look upon us while, in our sickness, we arraign ourselves beside you on the Calvary where your Jesus hangs. Dowered with the high grace of suffering, and hopeful of fulfilling in our own flesh what is wanting in our sharing of Christ’s passion, on behalf of his Mystical Body, the Church, we consecrate to you ourselves and our pain. We pray that you will place them on that Altar of the Cross to which Jesus is affixed. May they be little victims of propitiation for our salvation, for the salvation of all peoples. O Mother of Sorrows, accept this consecration. Strengthen our hopeful hearts, that as partakers of Christ’s sufferings we may also share in his comfort now and for evermore. Amen.
Prayer for those on Medication
Gracious God, You have given us many healing remedies that are a benefit to us when we are sick. Through the miraculous intercession of St. Anthony, we ask Your blessing upon the medication prescribed for (mention name) so that he/she may experience healing, and be restored to full health in mind and body. Amen.
Prayer for Hope Among Destruction
God of mercy, you know the secrets of all human hearts, for you know who is just and you forgive the repentant sinner. Hear my prayer in the midst of destruction; give me patience and hope, so that under your protection and with you as my guide, I may one day be reunited with my family and friends in peace, tranquility, and love. Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Prayer for the Sick and Seniors
All praise and glory are yours, Lord our God. For you have called us to serve you and one another in love. Bless our sick today so that they may bear their illness in union with Jesus’ sufferings and restore them quickly to health. Bless those who have grown old in your service and give them courage and strength in their faith. Lead us all to eternal glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for a Sick Child
St. Gerard, who, like the Savior, loved children so tenderly and by your prayers freed many from disease and even death, listen to us who are pleading for our sick child. We thank God for the great gift of our son/daughter and ask Him to restore our child to health if such be His holy will. This favor we beg of you through your love for all children and mothers. Amen.
Prayer for a Sick Person
Dear Jesus, Divine Physician and Healer of the Sick, we turn to You in this time of illness. O dearest Comforter of the Troubled, alleviate our worry and sorrow with Your gentle love, and grant us the grace and strength to accept this burden. Dear God, we place our worries in Your hands. We ask that You restore Your servant to health again. Above all, grant us the grace to acknowledge Your holy will and know that whatsoever You do, You do for the love of us. Amen.