Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Suffering and the Problem of God - Diamonds

Last Saturday morning, pain awakened me in the middle of the night. I lay there for a bit confused at being awake until the ache in my joints and muscles provided explanation. I decided to take some pain medication, my doctor has started me on something new that knocks me out but that’s not a bad thing in the middle of the night. Then I remembered that the pain had been bad all day and I had already taken as much as was allowed in 24 hours and I would have to wait before taking another dose. So I lay there, knowing there was nothing else I could do, feeling miserable and a bit cranky.

I found myself thinking of what a bit of coal must feel like when it is being pressed into a diamond, thinking that I am like that bit coal, undergoing a process that is making me into something splendid and beautiful and glorious. I found myself thinking of Bernadette, my confirmation saint who had tuberculosis of the bone and suffered for years without any of the modern medications that make my life quite bearable. “It’s not so bad,” I told God and myself . “And besides, it’s not as if I have to suffer it all on a Friday morning. I get to do it in tiny stages and this one isn’t so bad.” Finally, I realized what an honour it is to be made able to suffer even if I can only do it a little bit. Not terribly long after that, the pain eased and I fell asleep again.

I am very fortunate and I know it. At times I’d like to be cranky at God because things aren’t as I want them to be but then he reminds me how horrid it would be if they. There’d be no pain, no fatigue, no tests or procedures, but I’d also have no hope, no future, nothing beyond what I can imagine and that’s absolutely terrifying. I am absolutely convinced that on the sixth day, God took some dust into his hands and said, ‘I will make you like me’ and then proceeded to fashion humans in his image and likeness. I am absolutely convinced that we are like bits of coal being made into something far greater than diamonds. I am absolutely convinced that the thing that is going on, the thing that is bigger than I can ever realize is that he has told us the truth: we really are sons of God, heirs, able to grow up and be like him. I could never have imagined it, don’t know how it will happen, know I don’t deserve it, but if that’s what God wants, it’s fine with me.

It’s not easy but the difficulty is a guarantee that sonship is certain: if the cross is not real, then resurrection cannot be either. But since we live Good Friday, we can be certain that we will also live Easter.