It is an inevitable thing that in this life one will suffer. It is one of life's greatest truths, second to only to death. Suffering does not discriminate, it reaches everyone, the believer, the non believer, the young person, the old person, the Muslim, the Jew, and the Buddhist. It is a guarantee if you live, you will suffer. (What a pessimistic beginning, don't worry it gets better.)“…I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4: 11b-13)
Today as I said my prayers I was struck by this passage from Philippians. I was struck by the raw honesty of St. Paul as he relates his own struggles. St. Paul through this passage speaks about developing the virtue of spiritual detachment. St. Theresa of Avila also spoke about this virtue as she wrote,
"Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices."
So what does it mean to be spiritually detached? Does it mean that one should become indifferent to the challenges of life? Of course not. To be spiritually detached means to trust God so much that one becomes content in any circumstance. This detachment comes from the knowledge that God is in control, that no matter what happens it will all work out for the good - in this life and especially in the next one.
As I have well written in my previous posts it has been a very difficult year for me; arguably the most difficult one of my entire life. I have been tested in ways unimaginable. I have been stretched, stretched almost to my breaking point. I have been battered by the waters of suffering, beaten mercilessly by the winds of temptation, assailed by the unending buffets of the devil. Many times I have fallen, many times I have gotten up. In spite of this all I am still fighting, even if I am bruised and battered I am still fighting. How is this possible? Only through Christ for "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
The most beautiful part of all this suffering is the detachment that it has begun to forge inside of me. I no longer care so much about being in control of my life, I no longer care so much about earthly outcomes. I still have my plans, and dreams, but I realize that ultimately it is not in my hands, it is in God's hands. Like St. Paul I have begun to develop the ability to be content in all of life's circumstances, the good and the bad even if I am kicking and screaming along the way.
In some roundabout way I am grateful for my sufferings. It humanizes me. It makes me understand better the struggles of others. I am not a simple observer anymore I am a participant and my battle wounds are my proofs of this participation. If I didn't suffer then I would have never realized the inner resilience, the inner toughness, the boundless potential that is inside of me when I am aligned with God. Suffering has taught me that I ultimately have two choices: I can either choose to fight with God or without God. Since suffering is inevitable I hope to choose daily to fight with God.
Prayer: Lord grant me the grace to be content with all things in this life; to trust in you more, to realize that you are the benevolent author of my life. Amen.