I will not say I am rejoicing in my suffering. For many of the women/moms I work with that phrase is abusive. Why do I say that? For many of the moms I work with faith/spirituality/religion has become a two edged sword and both edges hurt. As a Catholic I believe that Jesus is both God and man and so suffered and dealt with the world as we do, in fact he did so, so that we could understand we are not alone in our suffering. I understand that the phrase rejoice in your suffering is meant to convey that knowledge that Jesus suffered as we did so don’t worry; just in the experience of many of my moms that is not what it came to mean.
For many of my moms the message meant you have no right to work out why and how you are suffering, you are just to smile through the pain. Not at all what Jesus was asking of us!
Let’s look at Luke 22 39 – 46. Jesus knows what is being asked of him. He has worked his entire ministry toward this moment. He goes to the garden to pray and asks God if it can happen to let this cup pass from him. He then spends time in silent prayer with God, finds the strength and peace to do what must be done and returns to find his disciples asleep! Jesus is angry that those who came to support him have let him down: What you can’t spend an hour awake with me?!
We all have times when we know we must go through something we have no choice but do it. Often it is unpleasant, unwanted, uncomfortable, and it is unavoidable. Like Jesus we may pray to have our cup pass over us, but in the end we know it can not be. Like Jesus we pray for the strength to do what must be done, and like Jesus we may come back to find our supports asleep.
When we are told by well meaning sorts that we should rejoice, (grin and bear it) in our troubles that stops us from doing what Jesus is truly asking us to do: find support in God, the resources we need to go through what we must and the faith to know that Jesus too had to do the impossible