suffer in pain??
This is an interesting question to all of us. But one way or the
other we all go through some pain and suffering in our lives. It
can be physical, mental, or emotional pain. Sometimes it may
come in the most unexpected ways. As human beings we are bound
to go through the suffering process of pain. No one willingly or
freely embraces pain or suffering, but as we walk our life
journey we encounter many crosses of pain and sorrow as part of
our daily life. As we welcome the joyful and happy moments of
our lives, likewise we also should be able to take pain and
suffering as part of our life.
When I was a hospital chaplain at United and Children’s Hospital
I came across many people who underwent all kinds of suffering
and pain in their lives. Fortunately, many of those patients
also had the gift of ‘hope’ that someday they would get better
and be free of the pain and suffering in their life.
I certainly don’t bear pain with gladness! I don’t know about
other clergy!! I personally don’t like pain, but in giving
advice to others about how to handle their pain and suffering, I
need to remember there are many things to be considered when
dealing with pain.
We should realize, for example, that pain is not a good to be
sought after in itself. Pain is unpleasant, although necessary
at times for our well being. Pain lets us know when our body is
at risk. Without pain, we might succumb to disease or accident,
unaware that our body is under attack.
But once pain has provided us with the notice that something is
wrong, we need to remember the pain can and should be relieved.
We all should pay attention to the statement that patients need
to have their pain relieved as much as possible because it will
help them to recover faster. Furthermore, recovery from
suffering and pain is not just a medical goal. It is a goal of
our Church as well.
Jesus performed miracles of healing to free people from their
suffering and pain. He sent his apostles to heal the sick by
anointing them with oil and praying over them (Mk. 6:12-13). He
inspired the Church to establish hospitals and clinics
throughout the world to bring relief to the suffering.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that Christ
identifies himself with those who suffer: “I was sick and you
took care of me.” (Mt. 25:36). It adds, “His preferential love
for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the
very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer
in body and soul.” It is the source of tireless efforts to
Jesus thereby teaches us, through the Church, to relieve pain
and suffering whenever possible. This is the high vocation of
nurses and physicians, and all other health care professionals.
It is also a calling for every other follower of Jesus. A mother
who comforts her child and bandages a cut finger is relieving
pain. So is a father who kisses away a child’s hurt. So are
those who visit a friend in the hospital, prays for the sick, or
comforts the dying. All such efforts to relieve pain continues
the mission of Jesus in our church today.
Today, great advances are being made in understanding and
alleviating pain. Pain treatment centers have been established
in many places, bringing together specialists to study and
relieve pain. New forms of technology, such as machines that
allow an individual to self administer pain medication, are now
Of course, one realizes we cannot escape all suffering. Some
aches and pains are unavoidable, and we must learn to bear them
graciously. Recently, I read the wise observation of an elderly
woman, badly crippled by arthritis, who nevertheless remained
cheerful: “Some pain is inevitable. Misery is optional.” She
made the distinction between pain and how we react to it. Jesus
didn’t enjoy suffering, but He endured it patiently for us. In
imitation of Jesus, and in union with Him, we can offer up
unavoidable sufferings for the good of others, for the “sake of
His body, that is, the Church.” (Col 1:24).
Fr. Tony Andrade.