A Lenten meditation on the value of pain and suffering was the topic of a recent newsletter. An incident in the book by Jean Vanier
(Canadian Catholic philosopher, humanitarian and the founder of L'Arche) where a young girl had difficulty relating with her mother introduced the meditation. Daughter would always end up confronting her mother in anger, and the mother couldn't understand why mother and daughter had to relate with anger so she recommended therapy.They discovered that the girl had a great deal of pent up anger against her mother.
When the girl was 3 years old her brother was born and the poverty of the mother made her give the children to her sister. In the eyes of the girl the mother abandoned her, and hidden for 20 years was this unresolved resentment towards her mother. When she was able to face this bitterness, and understood her mother she was able to forgive and the relationship with the mother changed.
There are many who have a 'hole' inside of them that doesn't allow them to accept life as is. This affects everything they do. Unbeknown to the person there are scars below the surface that still ache, and they are not able to function properly in society until they are acknowledged and healed.
Another incident was about a young man who after graduating from school got a job in a construction company. All was well, he looked forward to a bright future until a car accident crippled him, and prevented him from continuing in the work. He was greatly depressed lost his desire to live, but during his time of recuperation his acquanitance with those more handicapped than himself turned his own life around to a point where he decided to work with the handicapped--satisfaction from his new life changed even his appearance.
St. Augustine tells us God brings good out of evil: "God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil to exist." During this season of Lent let us remember the words of Jeremiah: "I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows." Jesus did not pray that the disciple not suffer, but they be delivered from the evil that could come from suffering.
Lent is a time to realize some of the greatest positive changes come into our lives from failures and disappointments we experience, and not the successes. A great danger is to have these failures and disappointments permeate the present moment to such a degree that one continues to live in the past. Strange tho it sounds we can be thankful for the 'good the bad and the ugly' in our lives, for in God's providence they can be stepping stones to a life that we never expected, a life even more satisfying than the one we were hoping for. Lent is a time to see the possibilities of grace. The temptations are always there, but the trust we should have in God should be stronger than the temptations --the lesson of today's Gospel.