Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
“To the flesh, promoting the gospel by suffering seems nonsense, a waste, a diminishment, a defeat. To the Spirit, it is God’s secret weapon.” Fr. George T. Montague
Whenever I think of suffering, I’m reminded of a story I heard from a priest years ago. He traveled with a group of priests on a pilgrimage to Rome where they had a chance to meet Pope (Saint!) John Paul II. They knew they’d only have a short meeting with him and wondered at the words of wisdom he would tell them. One of the priests hurt his leg and had to do most of the pilgrimage limping, with a cast on his foot and crutches. After their journey and finally at the moment when they’d meet the Pope they approached him one at a time. When the injured priest had his turn, JP2 saw his leg, pulled him in close and whispered in his ear, “Don’t waste your suffering!” And with that, the visit was done.
Don’t waste your suffering.
Paul was writing to Timothy from prison, where he was serving time because of his faith. This isn’t the worst suffering Paul experienced either: in his own words, “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, ... I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” (2 Corinthians 11: 25, 27) And yet, Paul suffers joyfully because he knows it brings him closer to Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sake. Jesus shows his love for us in suffering and dying for us, and Paul wants to imitate Jesus with his whole life, which includes suffering for the sake of the Gospel. Suffering redeems, and we get to offer the suffering that we have to God as a prayer of intercession for others.
Don’t waste your suffering.
You don’t need to be risking death, shipwreck, and famine to offer your suffering to God. Every day there are small opportunities all around us to experience little sufferings and offer them up to God. Did I wake up early to give a few minutes to God in prayer? Did I take the last bagel instead of leaving it for a sibling? Did I give the benefit of the doubt to a family member or friend who annoys me? Did I pass on an opportunity to share my faith because I was scared of being made fun of? Did I joyfully accept the little crosses Jesus invited me to carry today?
Don’t waste your suffering. If you let it, suffering will not only make you more Christ-like, but also preach the Gospel louder than even your words can.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
Do you waste your suffering? What are some hardships that you have experienced today or this week that you could have offered up to God?
What sufferings, even if they are small, can you offer up today to grow closer to Christ?
Who is an example of someone who has great faith and love through hardships and pain like St. Paul in your life? How can you be an example like them to the people you encounter today?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"I trust You."
"I am Yours."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Today, do something or give something up for the sake of Christ. Put others before yourself and take whatever suffering you endure and offer it to God. Let it bring you closer to Christ on the Cross, closer to His love. Don't waste your suffering.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Chris O'Hara, an evangelist in Canada.
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