“Mommy, why do people have to get sick or die?” The inquisitiveness of children pushes us mothers to grapple with some of the big questions in life and find a way to put the mysteries of our faith into toddler-size answers.
To my child’s question I responded: “Our God is so good and loving, and His greatest desire is for us to spend eternity in heaven with Him. He made heaven to be our home forever. If we were perfectly happy in this world, with no suffering or death, we wouldn’t long for heaven. Since we suffer in this life, we look forward to the day when ‘He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain…’ (Rev. 21: 4). I can’t wait to get to heaven. How about you?”
The answer that came to me was not mind-blowing or deeply theological, but through this simple response, my child joined in my hope for heaven and grew in trust of his God who gives only good to His children. Some days, I have to remind myself of these truths. He works all things for the good of those who love Him! He uses our sufferings mightily!
My mom used to say, “Suffering is the currency of the Kingdom.” Under her guidance, our daily life was certainly centered around the Kingdom. We understood that we could build it now and enjoy it eternally, and that anything we could do for the Kingdom was worth it! Being able to picture my spiritual piggy bank being filled when I scraped my knee or had my feelings hurt was a boon and a powerful springboard for virtue. This life-lesson still plays a huge part in my Christian walk. It keeps me from spiraling into self-pity when I am hurting, because I have an opportunity to unite my pain to the cross and “save up” treasures for my own marriage, family, friends or the world. As mothers, we can even put our kids’ sufferings “into the bank” for them. I learned when I was still changing diapers that I could offer up my babies’ diaper rashes, my own sleepless nights, or any other sacrificial moments of my day, for their future fight for purity. What a gift suffering actually can be. Through it, we are united to the One who suffered for us, we are gaining graces for souls, and we are growing more eager for heaven. May we embrace the suffering we face today with a new gratitude knowing, as St. Paul says, “the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us” (Rom 8:18).