Accepting Suffering Versus Asking for a Miracle of Healing

Accepting Suffering Versus Asking for a Miracle of Healing

For years I have been dithering about the pain in my knees. Before my numerous knee replacements and revisions, I never knew whether to pray for the miracle of healing or whether to just accept the suffering from the constant pain or even whether to have the surgeries.

My culture tells me/told me that it is unnecessary to suffer pain unnecessarily when there are medications to relieve the pain and surgeries to eliminate the source of the pain.

My religious faith tells me that suffering is a part of life and that God never allows us to suffer more than we can handle. In addition, it teaches me that suffering is a form of purification of my soul – if I offer my suffering in conjunction with the pain Jesus suffered.  (The National Catholic Register published an article on this topic.

These are two very different and opposing views on the meaning of pain and suffering and two different ways of coping with pain.

I prefer to be pain-free and completely mobile. So, I opt for the surgeries. In addition to the surgeries, my faith also offers me the hope of a miracle cure. I can attend healing Masses at my parish; I can ask for prayers for healing; I can attend healing services by those special people gifted by God to be able to physically heal; or I can go on a pilgrimage to a place where healing happens almost daily (such as Lourdes). So, my faith does offer miraculous cures and does not prevent people from seeking them.  We ask for miraculous physical healing knowing that the answer can be “no” or “wait” or “YES!” We are encouraged to ask, and not just ask once.

In the meanwhile, if the answer has not been an immediate cure, we wait. We have no idea how long we will have to wait – the cure may never happen. So, what do we do while we wait? In my faith tradition, we can “offer it up” for the souls in purgatory. We believe that there is a transitional phase between death and heaven in which we atone for our sins. We may have been forgiven, but the stain on our soul lingers and can only be removed by purification – in other words, suffering. Only the completely pure and immaculate deserve heaven, and most of us are not – so we are purified. How long it takes depends on the nature and extent of the stain of sin.

We can ask that our suffering be applied to alleviate the suffering of someone in purgatory – someone for whom no one prays, one of our own departed beloveds, or even for someone we did not like while they were alive. We can ask that our suffering here on earth will decrease the amount of time being purified in purgatory. We can even ask that our suffering alleviate the suffering of others who are still alive. We trust in the mercy of God that our prayers and suffering will do some good for someone else. So, we endure our suffering for as long as it takes.

Because I believe that my suffering can benefit others as well as myself, I question my desire to end my suffering either through a miracle cure or by surgery. I have been dithering about whether to pray for a miraculous cure.

Lately (facing yet another surgery that will require months of healing, immobility and pain) I have been thinking about asking for a miracle cure, so I don’t have to go through the agony of healing post-surgery. Should I or shouldn’t I?

It is a dilemma.

Perhaps I should ask for a miracle cure, relying on God’s answer completely even if He answers “no” or “wait.” Jesus did not cure everyone in need of healing while he was walking on earth, so why should I expect God to heal everyone who asks?  Even if we ask, and ask, and ask, He may not say yes. In this case the whole purpose is that I acknowledge that He can do it if He wills. It is up to Him and not to me. My job is to ask, whether He says yes or no.