The cardiac surgery of one of the Community Guardians has come at an interesting time for me. I was reading one of my favourite blogs about the concept of "offering up suffering", which is an idea I've never been all that comfortable with. Basically, it says that when we are going through a tough time, we "offer up" that pain to God for another purpose. This has always seemed to me to be denying the reality of pain, rather than allowing ourselves to experience it.
My response to this post is below. I thought it might be worthwhile to post it here.
'I think about this as not “offering it up” but “being in it”. I struggled with a very painful genetic condition for years (currently in remission) and each time the pain came, I tried to allow myself to pray in it – praying through it, and allowing the pain and suffering itself to be my prayer. I used to think a lot about the agony of Jesus on the cross, and the agony of his mother and friends as they watched him die. I couldn’t pray words as I didn’t have any and often wasn’t conscious enough to pray with words (amazing how significant pain messes with your mind, whether or not you’re on painkillers!) but I tried to use the experience as a way of identifying with the crucifixion. I was never very good at it, but it did help me bear the pain. I also tried to let my pain be an identification with all those others in pain and weakness. Again, not very good at this either! This also works when it’s not physical pain, but emotional and spiritual. It’s really hard to do though…'