God is close to those who suffer

From a conference call by the Founder of the Focolare Movement at Christmas 1986 in which Chiara Lubich encouraged everyone to remember people who were on their own, ill, or suffering spiritually and help them offer their suffering as a precious gift to the Child born in Bethlehem.

20171215-01Today the warmth of Christmas makes us all feel more like a family, more one and more like true brothers and sisters who share everything, both joys and sorrows. Above all, we want to share the pain of those who, through various circumstances, are spending this Christmas in direct contact with suffering. …

If we look at suffering from a human standpoint, we are tempted to find causes for it either within or outside of us, for example in other people’s wrongdoing, in nature or other things…. We say that accident is John’s fault; that illness is my fault; that painful situation/trial came about because of Jane….

All this can be true, but if we think only in these terms, we forget the most important thing. We lose sight of the fact that God love’s underpins all that happens to us. God wills or permits everything for a higher purpose, which is our own good.

So then, what can we say to people struggling with suffering? What Christmas wishes can we offer them? How can we relate to them?

First, let’s approach them with the greatest respect. Even though they may not think so, at this very moment God is at their side. Then let’s share their crosses as far as we can. Let’s assure them that we are always with them and praying for them, so that they may be able to take what distresses and causes them pain directly from the hands of God. … Let’s help them bear in mind  the value of suffering and remind them of the marvellous Christian prin­ciple in our spirituality that helps us see a countenance of Jesus crucified and forsaken in suffering and, by loving him, transform it into joy.

Knowing that those who walk in God’s ways cannot escape suffering, our Christmas wishes might be that everyone may know how to welcome all the small or great sufferings they encounter with great love and present them as a gift for the Child Jesus born today, just as the three kings offered their gifts. It will be the best incense, the best gold, and the best myrrh that we could place in the nativity scene.

Chiara Lubich, 25 December 1986



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