Joy in Suffering: Only a Footprint Away


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C’mon!! Can there really be such a thing?  People joyful while they’re suffering?  Impossible!

A few years ago I received some devastating news.  I never thought I’d overcome that dark period in my life.  A deep sorrow overtook my heart. Truly I felt I had tasted a small tidbit of Our Lady’s suffering.  It was very deep and dark.

I thought for sure I would never laugh or smile again.  I would get the kids off the school then lay on the floor sobbing deep, heartfelt sobs.  Still Our Lady was there.

Jesus sent me little signs that He was with me. I turned over the calendar to a new month. There before me was a picture of a beautiful beach showing only footprints in the sand. Oh yes. I recalled that this was also the name of one of my favorite poems, “Footprints.” Jesus says in the poem, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.”

Friends dropped everything to come and pray with me.  New friends, dealing with similar issues, began calling, praying with me. I had always wanted a close-knit group of Catholic friends, and here Jesus was providing that. Again, not under the circumstances I wanted.  Slowly I got stronger and the situation improved.

Blessed Mother Teresa suffered immensely interiorly, but kept this to herself.  Imagine the suffering! However, she always had a spirit of joy and love on her face.

How did she do this?  A grace.  She also knew that by giving to others, even when we are in pain, would bring joy. Blessed Mother Teresa also said people are depressed because they do not share enough of themselves. She said:

You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.”

Sometimes the Lord carries us and other times we are asked to help carry others across the sandy beach.

Again, from Mother Teresa:

“The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved – they are Jesus in disguise… Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don’t only give your care, but give your heart as well… The poor give us much more than we give them. They’re such strong people, living day to day with no food, and they never curse, never complain. Really we don’t have to give them pity or sympathy. We have so much to learn from them… Only in heaven will we see how much we owe the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.”

This will lead to joy. Although the world shuns any kind of suffering today, Jesus had a purpose for it — it sanctifies our souls.  Next time sorrow rolls around, let joy flood your soul as He carries you.

Copyright © 2012, Mary Mitchell

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Mary Mitchell

Mary Mitchell

Mary Mitchell, from Chicago, is a devout Catholic who likes to mix the divine truth with humor. She thinks it's the only way we can get through this life! Mary is the mother of three and has been married to her husband, Philip, more than 20 years. She has attempted to live the vows as a Secular Franciscan for about 20 years, but has a long way to go.

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