The thought came to my mind that people use times of joy and suffering in the opposite way from which they were intended. During good times, we think that God loves us very much (as He does regardless of circumstances) and we grow more attached to this life. During the latter times, we become vexed with God and groan and complain for Him to improve our lot. Perhaps the thought crosses our mind that God hates us–an impossibility. Rather, prosperity is not a sure sign that we are pleasing to God. It might even be a sign that our lot is not with God but in this life. On the other hand, St. Pio avers: “Suffering is the sure sign that God is loving us.”
I mentioned in my article on Arpeggio of Blue Steel that God wishes us to be His friends. If we look at human friendships, we might rate them as follows from least to greatest: 1) friendships of utility, 2) fair weather friends, 3) friends of long duration, 4) friends who remain friends in difficult times, and 5) friends who suffer with us. Though God loves all of us infinitely–even those who actively hate Him, who can doubt that those who most perfectly share the cross of Christ must be considered best friends? He wishes to transform those of mercenary temperament to serve him out of love, is pained by seeing the unwillingness of second group to stay with Him in suffering, looks with great fondness on those who stay by His side though weakly, is consoled by those who remember His Passion often, and who can describe the joy and pleasure He takes in souls that share in His Passion through suffering? And so, when we suffer, we ought to be more inclined to thank God for these very sufferings than complain of them. As St. Peter writes: “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).
The whole purpose of prosperity is to prepare us to suffer. We thank God for good things so that we might later be able to say with Job: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). This time on earth is the most important time in our lives, but it pales in comparison to the eons we shall enjoy in the presence of God. Such a long time is incomprehensible to us! Everything good and beautiful here should lift our minds to the splendor and joys of paradise. If the flowers and verdure of spring can give us such pleasure, how much more will paradise delight us with its beauties?
Lest the thorny and rocky path to this delightful paradise disquiet us, let us remember that path smooth and strewn with flowers but leads to the gaping maw of hell. Even if we allow the storms of life to choke our faith, God will never forget the least moment we shared His sufferings. Who can doubt that He shall shine the warmest rays of His Mercy on such a soul even to the last moment of life so that it might still attain eternal life in heaven?