Column: From our earliest days, there is often purpose to our suffering

by Jacki Corrigan

Children are a gift from God. They are a blessing of life and love. It is ours to love and protect them, to teach them about the good and gracious God who created them.

But often, when we are not looking, they teach us about God’s love. On a recent visit to the doctor, it was discovered that 16-month-old Baby Patrick needed to undergo a small medical procedure. While the doctor’s expertise was needed to ensure that he would be protected from future health risks, pain would be inevitable.

Our granddaughter Beth accepted her own pain as she watched her son’s suffering.

And then it happened: Baby Patrick’s tears began to flow and the cries rang in unison with the droplets of water that fell upon his mother’s shoulder.

As she held him closely, she gently patted his back and softly spoke the reassuring words, “I know, I know.” She shared in his pain.

When Dad, Patrick, came home, he embraced his beloved son and showered him with “daddy love.” In the comfort of his daddy’s strength, he felt secure and safe.

It is extremely difficult, as a parent, to watch our children suffer from bodily pain or the hurt brewing in their heart. Yet we know and understand that the struggle presently being experienced has the power to create a stronger self and to develop compassion for others in pain. We hold them closely, comforting them and lavishly covering them with our love.

While our children may not understand why the pain was inflicted on them, we know that the quality of their life has been strengthened and that their future health of body, mind or spirit has been fortified.

It was shortly after the office visit that Beth was holding Baby Patrick and he began patting her back and saying “I knooow, I knoow.” The inflection in his words was most sorrowful as he gave love to his mom in the way he had received it.

As I look back at the hurts that were part of my life — be they physical or heart-wrenching — I think of the great lesson Baby Patrick has taught me.

I do not fully understand my times of hurt or suffering. But I do now see that, in some instances, I have been allowed to see the hurt come full circle — sometimes ending in joy, sometimes in returning back to God those who had gifted my life.

I then see more clearly the growth that came from the suffering. I have been embraced by a loving God that understood my suffering and called me to unite it with the suffering of his son. My heart can almost hear the whispers: “I know, I know.”

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