For the longest time, I thought that suffering was something other people did–people who had it so much worse than I do. But I’ve come to realize two things: everyone suffers, and it doesn’t do anybody any good to compare other people’s suffering to your own. We all truly do have our crosses to bear.
Jeff Cavins’ new book When You Suffer is steeped in the wisdom of St. John Paul II, who suffered right in front of the world for several years at the end of his life, displaying an exceptional courage and grace.
Jeff Cavins tackles a complex subject in a clear, concrete and approachable manner. Right up front, he maintains that “there is meaning in suffering if the suffering is joined with the suffering of Christ” (p. 1). The first seven chapters of the book deal with the history and purpose of suffering, including the Passion and death of Christ. The final three chapters are more personal, allowing readers to examine their own suffering and how it can be offered up:
Your suffering provides you with an incredible opportunity to work with [Christ] in redeeming the world, and it is an incredible opportunity to love the way he loves (p. 95).
Cavins makes a point about suffering that I’d never considered: it has a purpose. It can help us grow in grace, to grow closer to Christ–if we choose to allow that to happen.
During Lent, when we voluntarily take on suffering in small ways, such as giving up a favorite treat or creature comfort, the message of this book is particularly timely. It’s a perfect book to read as we approach Holy Week.
This is the first book I’ve read by Jeff Cavins. It won’t be the last.
When You Suffer is published by Servant Books.
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Copyright 2016 Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS