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"But there is no way to heaven except the way of the cross. I followed it first. You must learn that it is the shortest and surest way."
— The words of Jesus to a suffering soul, Diary of St. Faustina

By Rick Hermann

One morning at breakfast a farmer said he felt like a window.

When asked why, the old man smiled and replied, "Full of panes, full of panes."

Sometimes we feel like that old farmer. Life can be a pain.

It hurts when we fall and scrape a knee or accidentally hit a thumb with a hammer. More seriously, we may suffer a painful medical condition, a jagged-edged experience or a broken relationship.

Life can break our hearts and shatter our dreams. We may fear it is impossible to put the pieces of our lives back together again.

In the midst of our suffering and brokenness, we may recall that our King allowed himself to be broken by being crucified. His fear caused him to sweat drops of blood, and He pleaded with God by saying "let this cup pass from Me" (Mt 26:39)

Yet Jesus, in humility, allowed himself to be broken. Why? Because He trusted His Father's promise that on the third day He would rise again.

We can trust God the same way. Whenever God allows us to be broken, we believe that He promises to bless us with new life. The Master Craftsman wants us to turn toward Him so he can rebuild us better than ever, in His image and likeness.

First we are broken, and then we are blessed.

Our faith does not take away pain. Faith instills pain with consecrated meaning and gives us supernatural hope.

"Offer it up," my grandfather would say about sufferings both great and small.

Do it now. By resting in God's hands you will find new courage, greater strength, and unexpected peace in the midst of distress.

A young woman I know was diagnosed with a frightening type of cancer. Her doctor arrived with a downcast face and announced, "I'm afraid I have some bad news."

With a serene smile she responded, "Oh doctor, you don't have to worry about me, I'm a Christian."

She believed deep down that our Creator's blessings are contained in every situation, giving her "the peace of God that surpasses understanding" (Phil 4:7).

Jesus demonstrated and embodied this mystery of brokenness during the Last Supper. He took the bread, broke it, blessed it, and said "Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is My body, which will be given up for you."

Jesus was soon broken on the cross, and then God blessed Him. In the same way, when we are broken, God will bless us, too. Just when we fear we can no longer bear our pain, the darkness that overshadows our brokenness is wonderfully penetrated by a great light, and all our troubles melt away with the rising sun of a new day.

So instead of fearing our brokenness as an enemy, we may embrace it as a friend. Just as we bless our enemies, we may also bless our pains and heartbreaks, trusting they are blessings in disguise.

We do not enjoy suffering, yet we may accept it gracefully when it comes. We know God allows it as a prelude to blessing us beyond our imagination.

While our suffering is a great mystery, God promises to put us back together again. This is our faith and hope. Our darkness is temporary. Love and laughter will return, often in the midst of the darkness, multiplied like loaves and fishes.

Remember the disciples who despaired after Jesus was crucified? When he reappeared, they did not recognize Him. During supper Jesus broke the bread and blessed it. "With that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him" (Lk 24:30).

First we are broken, and then we are blessed. Then our eyes are opened and we see God.

Rick Hermann, of St. Louis, Mo., is a Catholic author and speaker. He can be reached at [email protected].

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sebastian - May 21, 2008

Thank you for these divinely inspired thoughts. This is for all the world to realise the love, mercy and unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Obedience is humility and freedom. To follow Jesus, King of Mercy , is to suffer with grace. God is love (Deus caritas est). And it is our hope and faith. Faith is the relationship with our Heavenly Eternal Father who gives us His Son and Holy Spirit. It is the sense of belonging.
"When we cry, " Abba! Father!" it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of god, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" (Rom 8:16,17). God bless you.

Steubenville mom - May 20, 2008

thanks sooooo very much for this ..I really needed this encourgement because I have been broken by many people and I believe in that last line