Summary: The lady answered, “Tell Jesus not to kiss me — to stop kissing me.”

There are athletic passages both in Greek philosophy and in the Bible that say suffering can be useful like an athlete in training, because it can aid in the growth of virtue.

A meme: They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. At this point, my dear, I should be able to bench-press a Buick.

E.g. The Greek stoic, Epictetus, encouraged his students to consider that sickness, the unpleasant person, and all the humiliating and painful circumstances of life are like “fellow wrestlers.”

A sentence written by Ernest Hemingway describes how carrying our cross makes us stronger: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.

Christ invited a doubting disciple to touch the nail scars in his hands, but he was made indestructible after his resurrection.

e.g. Sarah E. Ball, is an author, speaker, and mental illness survivor.

She said, “When someone reaches out to me with his or her anxiety battle, my first response is never “are you praying enough?” it is always this order: Have you seen your doctor? Are you sleeping enough? Are you exercising? Do you have a support system? Are you in counseling? Do you believe God really loves you? We need to stop fearing fear. Remember that famous line, “the only thing to fear, is fear itself”? We all feel anxious from time to time; we would be inhuman if we didn’t but when we begin to fear the fear and do everything in our lives to avoid feeling it, we perpetuate a vicious cycle of fear. The most powerful phrase that gave me power over my anxiety was “Oh, hi anxiety, It’s JUST you.” When I learned to accept the sensations and thoughts and not try to fight or run from it my life changed.”

1). St. Paul, in Romans 5:3, gives an actual formula on how wrestling with suffering makes you stronger:

The verse teaches that tribulations bring about endurance and endurance reveals and builds character, which then gives one reason for the hope of sharing in God’s glory.

The condensed formula of such fortitude is--Suffering and affliction make endurance and perseverance, which produce character and character leads to hope.

Admittedly, it’s hard just to make it past the suffering part.

E.g. St. Mother Teresa, like some early Christian writers, noted that “suffering has to come because if you look at the cross, Jesus has got his head bending down — he wants to kiss you — and he has both hands open wide — he wants to embrace you. He has his heart opened wide to receive you. Then when you feel miserable inside, look at the cross and you will know what is happening. Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that he can kiss you. Do you understand, brothers, sisters, or whoever you may be? Suffering, pain, humiliation — this is the kiss of Jesus. At times you come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss you.”

But, Mother Teresa added, “I once told this to a lady who was suffering very much. The lady answered, “Tell Jesus not to kiss me — to stop kissing me.”

One coping mechanism when facing suffering or anxiety would be to numb-out. As Russell Moore observed, we often display a desire to be “fed rather than fathered!” (Russell D. Moore, Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ (Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), 61-96).

In other words, because we do not grasp with sufficient weight the significance of the hope of future glory, we find it easier to give-in to immediate gratification (e.g., numb-out with excessive food, drink, TV) rather than trusting in the Lord to shepherd us as his children.

2. Similar trials happened to Moses, Elijah and Jeremiah. Here is a second formula of what can happen:

Like Moses, they were specially chosen by God to respond to the Lord’s call to embrace their missions, which was sometimes accepted with fear and hesitation, but always followed by a period of enthusiasm in God’s service; but that, little by little, difficulties arise, culminating in a crisis of vocation, usually after several years, and they are afflicted by a loneliness which is almost unbearable: they believe themselves to be abandoned both by God and by men; and their life seems no longer to make any sense.

St. Ignatius of Loyola discerned from his own personal experience that the remedy for this predictable formula is the renewal of your first response when you said “yes”: make the choice of persevering in fidelity. Such a choice demands a new conversion: to re-establish oneself in an attitude of service, a definitive return to the One who is always faithful.

For someone in a vocation crisis, Ignatius’ words are wise: ‘In the case of an unchangeable choice made, once it has been made, there is nothing further to elect, since the first cannot be undone’ (Exx 172).

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