The School of Suffering

I’ve been longing to get to my computer for over a week now to get this post out, but life has demanded my attention in more important spots than in front of my computer. Tonight seemed appropriate as I reflect on the loss of our sweet little Matthew 9 years ago today. How quickly the past 9 years have flown by – I can recall the memory of holding tiny Matthew in my arms as if it were just yesterday. The blink of an eye. Is it because the bounds of time offer no restrictions on a mother’s heart? I stand at the foot of the Cross every year on his anniversary. What a gift to us he was, and still is. What a grace to be allowed to experience such profound loss. It was a grace beyond my comprehending that allowed Rob and I to feel joy in that suffering. What a sweet Cross that memory is.

So today was reflective for me. I reflected again on the pain of that year 9 years ago, the loss of Matthew, and the trust that precedes such unspeakable peace. And I spent the beginning of my day reflecting as well on the sufferings of this past year – the suffering within my pregnancy and the effect that had on the children, the sufferings of my brother, the suffering of continued health challenges I face. There is the temptation to feel overwhelmed. I confess that lately I have felt that temptation pressing on me.

Life moves quickly, and my pace quickens as I attempt to keep up. The past school year has been far from stellar. We were in survival mode. As I reflected today on the challenges of this past year, I wondered if we had covered enough academically. Did I teach enough? Did the children learn? What could I show for the year? Had our survival year allowed for any forward progress? The Holy Spirit reminded me through today’s homily what a powerful school suffering can be when we allow it into our lives, when we embrace the Crosses given, when we offer up the sufferings a merciful and tender God allows us to experience. The school of suffering offers supernatural lessons that infinitely outweigh the benefits of any math lesson or sentence diagrammed.

So tonight, I slowed instead of quickening to keep up with the frantic pace life sets. I talked quietly to the children about Matthew. We talked about how much we missed him. We talked about how fortunate we were to have him in heaven waiting for us, praying for us, interceding for us. I told them how happy we would all be when our whole family was reunited in heaven. How joyful they were at this thought. I was grateful that we could talk about Matthew. Heaven is a reality to my children. Suffering has been a powerful teacher.

Yes, we covered enough this year. I am content.

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  1. God does work in wonderful ways! How appropriate that the homily on Matthew’s anniversary was about suffering. Matthew is truly our little saint helping guide us through life. The day was compounded by the fast pace of all that had to be done and that which didn’t get done. I am sorry that I seemed to be stuck in 100 mile/hour mode and didn’t have the thoughtfulness to express my sorrow for the day with you. So now a day late (nothing new there), with a heavy heart, I mourn. I miss Mathew. He will always be with me and looking out for me even if I don’t always say or do the right things (I hope). I love him and all my children. I also love my wife who every now and then has to give me a gentle kick in the pants to remind me what is important in life. I am truly blessed.

  2. What a powerful post. I have a real problem dealing with/accepting the suffering in the world. I have never really had any suffering to speak of in my own life. Perhaps that is part of my problem. Your post has given me a glimpse of insight. Thank you. Bless you both and your family. lois

  3. JenniferWhat a beautiful post. I did not know about your Matthew. 9 years ago on the same day I went into the hospital in premature labor – 24 weeks pregnant with Nick and Andrew. They told us the twins would never survive, that they would have cerebral palsy, be blind etc. I stayed on heavy duty meds for the next 6 weeks and I had 31 week twins born – who are now perfectly healthy boys with too much attitude. I am so sorry about Matthew. But it makes me realize how we really are kindred spirits. Maybe Matthew was in Heaven interceding with our Lord for my twins.And Jennifer – as I am realizing – this suffering thing really is powerful – I think it is Scott Hahn who says “if we knew the power of suffering we would be asking God for it”I pray for you every day my friend.

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