The Discipline of Pain

John 16:20-23
Acts 18: 9-18 / Ps 47: 2-7

Amen, Amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
(John 16:20)

Is your life now filled with sorrow?
Don’t dwell in anguish and complain;
Just be patient, for tomorrow
Joy and peace will be yours again.

(Jesus said,) “Truly I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in pain, because her hour has arrived. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the pain because of the joy of having brought a child into the world. So you also are in anguish now. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, andno one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you.” (John 16: 20-23)

Reflection

During breakfast yesterday, my wife and I were talking about the pain of separation when we got married some 48 years ago. She said her only sister, who was just 9 years old at the time, hated me for taking her big sister away from their home in Makati to live in a faraway city in Mindanao. It took a long time for her to forgive me for taking away her big sister. I realized then how all the more heartbreaking and greater sacrifice it must have been for my loving wife, who was taken from family and friends at the young age of 21. Her “calvary” grew even worse when we transferred to a distant farm for me to manage the family’s piggery, where we had no telephone, t.v., or regular electricity. Then I had to run for barangay captain, and won, leaving my poor wife all alone with our baby in the house most of the time. I never knew about her miseries, as she never cried or complained to me in all our years together.

Our bond of marriage was tested, and became stronger during times of deprivation and financial problems. Dividing my time and efforts in the barangay’s affairs, a piggery that was constantly running out of feeds, and the needs of my young family drove me to seek God’s help. In the end, the piggery went bankrupt, I resigned from my position as barangay head, and my wife and I became closer to each other, and to God who deepened our faith.

It is when we are begging for a miracle that we become closest to God, even if our prayers are not answered. When we find ourselves in dire straits, we remember to call on a greater power as our source of last resort. Our troubles and problems in life may be God’s way of bringing us to our senses. They could be God’s way of disciplining us for our own good. Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.” The same wisdom we find in the letter to the Hebrews, which says, “My son, do not disdain the Lord’s discipline, or lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and punishes every son He acknowledges. Endure hardship as discipline; for what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards…. We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. Should we not submit all the more to the Father of spirits and live? Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb.12:5-11). These words should be enough to make us rejoice in spirit even in the midst of our suffering.

Dear God, we believe that ultimately, all the pains and troubles that we experience in this life will be for our own eternal benefit, because we trust You fully as a loving Father Who only wants the best for His children. Sustain our faith, Father, that we may overcome all the trials that we face in our life. Amen.

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