“Lord, I am at present in tribulation, and my heart is troubled; but I am greatly afflicted with my present suffering.” (IC 3,29,1) | “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?” (Rom 8:35)

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXIX: “How God must be Invoked and Blessed in Time of Tribulation” (third entry)

This chapter is all about the disciple’s lamenting his current state of trial and tribulation and looking to Christ for help. He asks to withstand his suffering with patience, humility, and fearlessness, realizing that he deserved no better, trusting that a greater good will come of it.

|Today’s second reading: Rom 8:35, 37-39

Paul famously wraps up chapter eight of Romans with encouraging words for the Christian who is experiencing any manner of difficulties. God is with us and loves us through all of our challenges. We must not doubt this regardless of what we are asked to endure since “in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly.”

|Reflection

As difficult as life can be at times, we are to take comfort in knowing that God loves us and is always there for us through it all, even if it seems that the whole world has abandoned us. Nothing in this mortal coil can cut us off from the Lord except our own grave sin. This is why sin of any kind should be a horror to us, as it was the great saints. Why would we want to offend, even to the point of cutting off, the One who made us, sustains us, redeemed us, and desires us to be saved for eternal beatitude with Him? Like the disciple in Kempis, we should bring our difficulties to Christ, laying them out before Him, while asking for the patience, humility, courage, and strength to see them through for the greater glory of God. This may need to be reiterated by us daily, hourly, or even minute-by-minute in our darkest moments. But the promise of divine assistance and ultimate reward is assured for those who persevere. Would that we are able to say with Paul in another letter:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church (Col 1:24)

“Offer it up!” the good nuns would tell us. This is biblical wisdom we must interiorize to make our hearts like unto Christ’s.

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn: St. Paul in Prison
St. Paul in Prison (1627) by Rembrandt

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