Times of Suffering and the Ultimate Connection

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Here’s an often misunderstood and misinterpreted statement: many people feel drawn to God in times of suffering.

During a serious illness, a family crises, the loss of a job, or the death of a loved one, many people will say that they turn to God… More skeptical minds may chalk this up to desperation. The person, they say, has nowhere else to turn and so turns to God. God is seen in this light as a crutch for the foolish, a refuge for the superstitious.

But… we do not turn to God in suffering because we suddenly become irrational. Rather, God is able is able to reach us because our defenses are lowered. The barriers we erected to keep out God – whether from pride or fear or lack of interest – are set aside… We are not less rational. We are more open.

Near the end of his life, my father started to talk more frequently about God. This was a complete surprise… he had, as long as I had known him, never been overly religious… My dad also became more gentle, more forgiving, and more emotional.

After his death, I remarked to my friend Janice, a Catholic sister, that my dad seemed to have become more open to God.  “Yes,” she said, “Dying is about becoming more human.”

Her insight was true in at least two ways.  First, becoming more human for my father meant recognizing his inborn connection to God, though we may ignore it, or deny it, or reject it during our lives. But with my father’s defenses completely lowered, God was able to meet him in new ways. Whatever barriers had kept God at a distance no longer existed.

This, not desperation, is why there are so many profound spiritual experiences near death. The person is better able to allow God to break through.

Second, my father was becoming more human because he was becoming more loving. Drawing closer to God transforms us… the more human we become, the more divine we become.

This is not to say that God desires us to suffer. Rather, when our defenses fall, our ultimate connection is revealed.

-   edited from The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life, by James Martin, SJ

Ya Haqq!

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6 Responses to Times of Suffering and the Ultimate Connection

  1. Mignon says:

    Absolutely. . .In the center of the Eye of God, here.
    Ya Haqq!

  2. Salaams br. irving

    Thanks for posting this article. I have to agree for the most part but I do believe that there are some people who see god as the last resort when they have tried everything else to keep from dying or keep a loved one from dying. The person who knows his or her time is limited is able to cut through the petty things in this life that he/she may once have believed were important. also there is the Unknown factor. Many with a weak faith or relationship with God feel fear not having a certainity that there is somehing else after a physical death. for those who do not believe it is a sad thng to face.. the belief of nothing after a physical death.

  3. Very interesting point of view.

    It opens me up to wider possibilities.

    Thanks for sharing, Brother :)

  4. Irving says:

    Thank you, dear sisters and brother, for your kind comments :) Father Martin’s insight rings true to me, and is similar to the out of body experience I went through, which can be read at this link:

    http://darvish.wordpress.com/2007/10/21/my-out-of-body-experience-a-true-story/

    Ya Haqq!

  5. Lat says:

    Wise words indeed.

    “…was becoming more human because he was becoming more loving. Drawing closer to God transforms us… the more human we become, the more divine we become.”

    Great thoughts!

  6. Rabia says:

    I like:

    “But… we do not turn to God in suffering because we suddenly become irrational. Rather, God is able is able to reach us because our defenses are lowered. The barriers we erected to keep out God – whether from pride or fear or lack of interest – are set aside… We are not less rational. We are more open.”

    Something happened in my life in the end of March that has caused me much suffering, but also has brought me closer to the true desire of my heart = coming closer to Allah.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Rabia

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