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).
They say that hindsight is 20-20.
I have realized how true this statement is at different points in my life, always in a similar circumstance. As I look back at how things have played out in my life: my family, my friends, school, athletics, love, joy, and even loss, I can see how God has been working from the beginning to bring me to where I am now. Certain decisions that seemed insignificant played a deeper role long after they were made, things I did wrong ended up moving future events toward a better outcome. The Lord has always been at work to bring about bigger and better things for me, and I know that he is still doing so in the present.
But nowhere has this been more striking to me than in my suffering. I don’t say this to dramatize my life into a huge sob-story or to claim that I have endured worse than others, but to be honest about how suffering has shaped the disciple that (I hope) I am. In the moments of greatest distress, I sought to hide from my suffering. The world shaped an understanding in my mind that suffering was bad and had no value—my life was better off if I only lived in the moments of joy and pleasure. Perhaps you’ve experienced this same thing: living from big moment to big moment, embracing the fun and despising anything that slowed down the pursuit of pleasure and “fun”. Maybe you’ve looked at the significant struggles in your life and questioned God’s providence—after all, how could an all-loving Being really care for you if you have those moments of severe anxiety or depression, struggles with addictions, eating disorders, loneliness, and betrayal?
But maybe you’ve also experienced the 20-20 vision that comes when God reveals how everything in your life, even the worst of the worst, has been leading you to the greatest moments. Perhaps you can read St. Paul’s words today and nod in agreement because you know that those moments of suffering, while the worst thing imaginable at the time, pale in comparison to the glory God has revealed in your life.
The promise of the Gospel takes all of this even one step further—even the best times of our lives, the times filled with abundant blessing and peace, are nothing compared to the glory of the promise of the empty tomb. It is the truth that we who are baptized into Christ’s death are also baptized into his resurrection, and we will experience a glory that outshines and outlasts every suffering and even every joy that we will ever face in this life. This is our hope, this is our life as disciples of Christ. We are the church who, although we go forth weeping, will come back rejoicing. So consider, with St. Paul, that these momentary afflictions are nothing, nothing, in comparison with the promise of the resurrection and the glory to be revealed.
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.
Where has God brought good out of the suffering in my life?
How am I trying to avoid suffering in my life? Why do I try to avoid suffering instead of inviting God into it?
In what ways do I live in the hope of the glory that God has promised? How is it shaping my friendships, my actions, my decisions?
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.
"Teach me how to suffer."
"You are my hope."
"I trust in your promise."
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 take time in prayer to thank God for the suffering in your life, knowing that he can still use it to bring about greater glory in your life!
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Today's prayer was prepared by Adam Smyth, the Life Teen Coordinator at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in the Woodlands, TX.
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