Updated: Aug 15
My friend’s head had been hurting for days. He took medicine and drank extra water and
tried other things to try to get it to go away. The thing that struck me about his approach,
though, was that he also spiritualized the pain. He would offer it up for those he knew who
were having a hard time understanding some particular truth of the faith.
This was his method: If he was having some particular pain, he would draw an analogy to
some sort of spiritual trouble that someone could be having. More often than not, he knew
someone who was having that type of spiritual trouble. If he didn’t know someone who was
having spiritual trouble of that type, he would offer it as a prayer for someone he didn’t know
who did have that trouble.
Let’s look at some examples. If his leg hurt, he would pray for those who were having trouble
walking in the faith, for those who felt like they were limping along in their relationship with
God, or for those who were not making the progress that they would have liked to make. If
his neck was stiff, he would pray for those who had trouble turning their heads toward Christ
or who had trouble seeing things from the same perspective as Christ. Or he would just pray
for someone in his life that was a pain in the neck.
This method reminds me of a couple of other things. The first is the religious sister who came to help with a retreat at a parish I was at. She told the story of trying to be grateful for
anything Jesus wanted to send her. The example she used was getting up in the middle of the night and walking through the living room. Stubbing her toe on the coffee table, her
immediate reaction was “Thank you, Jesus.” I’m not there, yet, but given my friend’s method, I would like to be where I can react like the sister and then add, “and please, Lord, accept this suffering as a prayer for those who are surprised and react negatively to something they suddenly find out about the faith.”
The second thing this reminds me of is St. Therese’s reaction to suffering. Here are a couple
of quotes from her to think about:
Sufferings gladly borne for others convert more people than sermons.
It’s true, I suffer a great deal-but do I suffer well? That is the question.
To give more examples of how you could do this, below is a short list of possible connections
between pains and people. To show the connection, they are listed with the pain first, the
part of the body and its significance second, and possible people to pray for third.
Headache – head, seat of the intellect and thought – those having trouble understanding the Truth, those whose thoughts are foggy, etc.
Eye troubles – eyes, sight – those having trouble seeing the Truth or seeing who Jesus is, those who are too focused on immediate problems or situations (near-sighted), those who are too focused on bigger issues they can’t do anything about (far-sighted)
Throat problems – throat, swallowing – those having trouble swallowing the Truth (they understand what is being proposed for belief but aren’t buying it)
Back pain – back, ability to stand up, ability to move around – those having trouble standing up for what is right, those having trouble moving out of a situation they need to leave
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Dr. Seth Wright
Director of Missionary Discipleship
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