Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
June 15, 2009
Faith takes the sting out of injustices and allows the soul to heal
St. Josemaria Escriva once wrote, "The Lord stands by the suffering. You either believe this or you do not. If you do believe it, why do you still suffer?"
Christian faith should give one confidence in the face of adversity. We know God is with us and that he will see us through. We have no cause to dwell on past hurts or apparent injustices. We know that although God has not given them to us, he will help us rise through those hurts to greater fullness of life.
It is not to say this is easy. For many, it may be humanly impossible. There is the deep woundedness of those who have suffered sexual abuse, torture, severe neglect in infancy or other trauma that has left them fearful and unable to cope. Mental illness can strike without warning.
Indeed, no one is without personal deficiencies that can make one's response to negative stimuli less than grace-filled.
But there is hope. There is hope not only for eternal life, but also hope within this life.
Hope, however, is not a virtue received passively. It requires our cooperation. Hope is built on trust in the Lord and it grows out of prayer.
Now, some psychiatrists are proposing that "post-traumatic bitterness disorder" be classified as a form of brain disorder. People who suffer this presumed disorder have had a pathological reaction to some event where they feel they have been unjustly treated and they want the world to recognize that injustice.
One's first reaction might be to say, "Buck up, Charlie, and get on with life." It is virtually guaranteed that you will be treated in manifestly unjust ways in life. You will somehow have to find your way through them.
That does not imply we should tolerate injustice. We shouldn't. Essential to our call as Christians is to stand with the oppressed, not only with compassion but in an effort to eliminate injustice.
Characteristic of the holy ones, however, is that while they do not tolerate injustice done to others, they are accepting of injustice done to themselves.
The holy ones are keenly aware of their own sins. Because of that, they accept the injustice they receive. They accept it cheerfully. In fact, few things give greater evidence of sanctity than how one accepts the wrongs one suffers.
In the first millennium Irish monks kept a catalogue of sins and the recommended penance. Today, psychiatrists keep a catalogue of personality disorders. The advantage of the monks' approach was that it contained an implicit challenge to seek God and sin no more. The psychiatrists' approach calls one to seek treatment.
The difference between the two is not black and white, either-or. But in the midst of life's trials, a firm trust in the Lord can keep one from being obsessed with one's woes and to focus on that which is outside the self.
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