Of Suffering, Safety Nets and Kings

Image: Pietro Jeng

Over the past few weeks, PinayVoices has been hopping because of our posts on divorce. It can be draining.

It’s exhausting to talk to unhappy women who, blinded by anger, can’t get past their own view of things to hear what others are saying. Misunderstanding is a given. I wasn’t surprised, but what bothered me was that for these women, there is only one acceptable way out of their situation: divorce. No, they won’t be persuaded otherwise. They demand the “safety net” of divorce, even though there are other safety nets already in place, often not even being utilized to the full extent of the law, and for the wrong reasons.

We have programs to help people, but of course we can always do more, and must. But even with these programs in place, people do not avail of them, because a) they don’t know the programs exist, or b) they don’t agree with the goals of the program, i.e., like how pro-abortion women hate crisis pregnancy centers, or c) the solutions offered just aren’t a good fit for all their wants/needs. Abusive spouses are not put in jail. Adultery law is not enforced. There are many concomitant issues to this discussion, like co-dependency, but which needs exploring.

To boot, there will be people who abuse whatever system we have in place, and, within the system itself, there will be people who undermine an organization’s stated mission and twist it to fit their own agenda, e.g., disaster aid workers who see emergency abortion pills as essential medicine.

But the unvarnished truth is that human systems are imperfect and cannot possibly fill all the gaps that need filling.

Meanwhile, these women demand retribution.

They demand freedom from suffering.

They demand that the cross be taken away from them. Right here, right now.

Yes, it is but human to desire this. We often want our little peace of heaven NOW, while we are here. Except our idea of heaven isn’t really how heaven is, is it?

There is no adequate set of programs or laws to cover the multitude of sins and the pain that results from them, in this fallen world. This is why we refer to our earthly home as a valley of tears.

What was remarkable though, especially when juxtaposed against those angry comments, were three women who came forward with truly inspiring stories. There’s Jade, whose parents are her #relationshipgoals, despite the fact that they fought off and on for 40+ years, threatened to separate many times over the course of their married life, and who stayed together after all and even served in Church and ministered to others. There’s Elizabeth, who shared her moving story about hope after abuse. And a third woman, who chose to remain anonymous, learned via spiritual direction to love her husband again after several troubled years.

These women think very differently about suffering. They know that meaning, value and purpose can be found by uniting all of it — the tears, the pain, the waiting — with Christ’s. They know the cross is TEMPORARY. They also confirm this incontrovertible fact: our crosses may look different, but no one is free from the cross.

What’s different is HOW we bear these crosses. There are people who are simply “good sufferers”. I’m married to one. But for those who learn how to suffer well later in life, it’s often like a light bulb that has been switched on. Suddenly the view changes from despair, to hope.

A few years ago, a friend asked me why I stay Catholic. I gave several reasons, but one answer seemed to give her some comfort: my Catholic faith informs me that there’s reason, meaning, purpose, and value… in suffering. Otherwise the world and its ills would be unbearable. That Someone died on the cross for me, for us — nothing can take that away. The challenge of every day is to develop that view that includes eternity, because that’s where true and endless happiness waits for us. I only wish there was a way to make people understand.

We may get impatient waiting for God’s justice. But it’s coming. If not in this lifetime, definitely in the next.

Our very human leaders, no matter how well-intentioned, can only do so much for us. People will fall through the cracks. Not everyone will be helped, or helped in a timely manner. Our earthly kings can’t save us no matter how many promises they make.

Jesus Christ, our Heavenly KING, DIED on the cross for us, and He has told us to take up our cross and follow him. But “Embrace your cross” isn’t a welcome message today. It never really has been, the promise of the Resurrection notwithstanding.

There is only one real Safety Net Who catches everyone and doesn’t let anyone down. The catch (no pun intended), of course, is that many times faith in Him: our Creator, our Savior, our Redeemer… doesn’t feel like a safety net at all… but that’s why we call it faith. And what He offers isn’t just freedom from earthly pain or persecution, but Life and Joy and Love eternal.

It’s Good Friday… but Easter Sunday is coming.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. — Hebrews 11:1 (RSVCE)

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