“By day and by night My gaze is fixed upon him and I permit these adversities in order to increase his merit. I do not reward for good results but for the patience and hardship undergone for My sake.”—Jesus Christ to Saint Faustina Kowalska, Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul
The Wine Press of Suffering
As I turn the various corners of life in my pursuit of Christ, I often come face-to-face with suffering. Christ may permit that it either passes me by this time, or he may permit that it plucks me up like a grape and places me into the wine press of suffering.
As my pursuit continues, and Christ’s grace swoops me in closer to the hem of his garment, I loosen my death-grip on the things of this earth so that I may reach for his hem, and I feel myself falling up and away from Earth’s temptations. That’s when I begin to feel a more constant press of suffering, one rooted in homesickness. I hunger for heaven, and yet the hour hasn’t come, so earthly life is more poignantly one of trial and suffering.
It’s certainly a blessing to be alive, and yet I cannot ignore the wine press that swells in around me, rushing in with a particular intensity at certain moments of life. In those times, I feel crushed on all sides, and as the plates press upon me, the light fades like a sunset, ushering in a heavy darkness.
That’s when Christ calls me to look beyond myself, beyond the crushing.
“Once when I was being crushed by these dreadful sufferings, I went into the chapel and said from the bottom of my soul, “Do what You will with me, O Jesus; I will adore You in everything. May Your will be done in me, O my Lord and my God, and I will praise Your infinite mercy.” Through this act of submission, these terrible torments left me. Suddenly I saw Jesus, who said to me, ‘I am always in your heart.’ An inconceivable joy entered my soul, and a great love of God set my heart aflame.
One act of trust at such moments [of darkness] gives greater glory to God than whole hours passed in prayer filled with consolations. Now I see that if God wants to keep a soul in darkness, no book, no confessor can bring it light.”—Saint Faustina Kowalska, Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul
Suffering is not Fruitless
Foolish me! How I so quickly ignore the big picture: the will of God. My suffering isn’t fruitless. He permits evil to press upon me for a mysterious purpose, for reasons that are so far beyond my little brain. The water of my tears and the blood of my body rend from me into a mysterious alchemy, so I must rest on faith, and must stop clinging to these treasures that are pressed out of me. When my hands are full of my own self-pity and God-willed fruitfulness—when I don’t offer it up to him—I cannot cling to the hem of his garment. I’m caught up in myself in a swirl of wasteful pride and grief.
So I give myself up for you Lord. I want to unite my suffering to your passion for the love of you, for the souls in Purgatory, for the sins committed against Mary’s heart, and for the conversion of sinners.
You have given me and all my brothers and sisters a choice at every little corner of life, and ultimately a choice that sunsets at our death… to either say, “My will be done” or “Thy will be done.”
“Thy will be done.”