At different moments in my life I have suffered from depression. Those have been trying moments, with thoughts like, “Nothing seems to be right; it’s all hopeless,” and “Are things ever going to get better,” and “Why is God letting this happen to me?” Thankfully, those events have passed. Suffering, though, is real, whether it be at an emotional, spiritual, or
physical level. Sometimes, things just hurt. And when they do, pious platitudes don’t make things any better.
In this weekend’s first reading we hear about some of Job’s suffering. His friends and acquaintances—his “comforters”—tell him that it must be because of some sin that either he or his parents committed. And Job complains. What he really does, though, is offer a prayer of Lamentation to God. Job trusts God enough to complain to him. Dominican Fr. Jude Siciliano says that lamentation is “a complaint of a faithful person to God. It is a prayer of great faith for it expresses belief in the One who is listening. It says that we are not alone as we cry out of the abyss, that our words do not fall on deaf ears.”
And even though we don’t know why God allows suffering in this world, we do know that God is there to help us through it. Time and time again, the gospel shows Jesus alleviating suffering in one way or another. In this weekend’s gospel passage, Mark tells us about Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law. It was actually her suffering that led Jesus to her. And as a response to Jesus healing her, she got up and began to wait on them. Mark the evangelist is telling us that she became a disciple, a servant of Jesus. When I think of it, it’s really quite profound: it was her suffering that led Peter’s mother-in-law to an encounter with Jesus and to discipleship. Or, as Jesus states elsewhere in the gospel, it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but rather the sick.
Today’s readings help me realize that it is in admitting my suffering, my weaknesses—rather than trying to pretend they aren’t there—that lead me to an encounter with Jesus as healer and giver of life. How about you? Are you ready to allow Jesus into your life to heal you and call you to follow him?