Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Redemptive Suffering

This post is a fusion of my current ills (which have been manageable today) and the blessings/curses post. I'm talking about redemptive suffering.

Redemptive suffering is a Catholic concept. You may hear Catholics talking about "offering it up" when it comes to physical, emotional, and mental pain. I don't think I've heard a Protestant ever use the phrase or even understand it. So I'm here to educate.

Redemptive suffering will not save a person's soul. Or to put it another way, you cannot save yourself through redemptive suffering. Redemptive suffering is similar to a penance. Only God can forgive you and save you. However, it is all about the intention. If you intend to do penance for something you've done wrong, it's a good way of showing that you are intentionally sorry. Redemptive suffering is a sort of a form of penance. You can patiently live with your suffering on the road to salvation. You can also offer this penance for someone else like a prayer. It's a strange concept for those who haven't heard it before, but just like most Catholic beliefs, it is found in the Bible. (Well, some Catholic beliefs the Bible is silent on like the Perpetual Virginity of Mary.)

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up my flesh what is lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, that is the church. Col 1: 24

Paul talks about suffering a lot in his Epistles. He very elegantly discusses redemptive suffering here. The Church teaches that Christ's afflictions were enough for our salvation, but in this letter Paul is using his suffering for the sake of the early church. His intention is to help with their salvation through his suffering. This passage and many others point to the concept of redemptive suffering.

So you can see the beauty in being "cursed" and the blessings in suffering that Jesus talked about because they are part of the pathway to salvation. To use a metaphor, nobody likes pregnancy. I haven't heard of anyone who didn't have some issues along the way: nausea, stretch pains, indigestion, fatigue, etc. Even husband's don't like pregnancy. But the redeeming factor of pregnancy (after the initial lack of sleep) is a child who becomes a part of your life. I'm not saying this child is absolutely wonderful all the time, but one would like to think that all the suffering we do on the part of children will help them to grow up to be model adults. Similarly, no one likes to suffer, but we "offer it up" in hopes that our suffering has some value to others or ourselves.

1 comment:

I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!