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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Comiskey

Sharing Suffering

'I write to comfort others as I have been comforted. The word "comfort" means to be strong together, to have fortitude together. There is the reminder of community. Once when I suffered and sat in church in a misery while waves and billows passed over me, I suddenly thought, with exultation, "I am sharing suffering," and it was immediately lightened.' Dorothy Day

Chill dry wind blew through my otherwise cozy holiday season. Unexpected. Flimsy walls failed to block the needling of some deep needs. I felt them yet didn’t; joyful rushing about delayed the inevitable. Only His Presence invited me to lay bare my soul.

I entered the Adoration chapel at a nearby parish and fell facedown before the exposed Host. Grateful to be alone with Jesus but powerless to stem the tide of emotion, I began to sob for a few minutes. Then I began interceding deeply, with no words, except for the faces of a few whom I knew were far more afflicted than I: a family wracked by cancer, friends immersed in perversion, a marriage shattered by adultery, orthodox loving parents abandoned by LGBTQ+ children.

For an hour, I felt the anguish of these ones and the Lord’s aching heart for each. In a strange way, I felt that these persons were nearby, with me before the Lord.

That happened several times during the holidays. Light and momentary grief of a familiar kind became the threshold for intercession.

My ache seemed minor in contrast to those for whom I prayed. It is, in truth. I frankly had a great time throughout Advent and Christmas and Epiphany. Surrounded by lovely family members and a few friends, my need surprised me. But bringing it before Jesus transformed a lack into what I hope is others’ gain.

I urge you to allow Jesus to bind up your aches and pains as to loose prayer for those more needy than you. Intercession invites community and consolation with persons miles away. When we allow our beings to be touched by others’ pain, we can travail for the alleviation of their pain. It gives meaning to our own suffering; it releases hope for others in ways we won’t know until we see Him face-to-face.

‘…we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We don’t know what to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.’ (Rom. 8: 3, 26)

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