Over recent weeks, I've pondered the phrase, “offer it up to God!”. It didn't make sense to me. What did that mean? When I have a headache, does offer it up mean ask God to ease it? If we are to offer it up, should we not take medicine to relieve our pain? I have been at a loss for awhile on this, and had planned to talk to my pastor this week about it.
One day, as I rested to take a short nap, I was having trouble calming my mind, and as the minutes grew, the longer my nap-insomnia (napsomnia?) was cutting into sleep time. I began to whisper and pray on each breath, “Praise you, God. I love you, God. Thank you, God.” I focused on the words, and if a thought came to my head, I just kept breathing. I have never been good at focusing (ADD!) or meditation, or even inducing relaxation! Suddenly, like a lightning bolt, it came to me!
“Offer it up” means to take on suffering so that another’s pain might be eased. I went through some very trying times in my 20s when my birthmother’s response was not anywhere in the realm that I expected. Did I think I might be rejected? Maybe. Denial, and rejection, in the manner it was handled? I didn't expect that at all, and it sent me into a tailspin. The pain was great, and we weren't going to Church, so I didn't have my Faith to fall back on, although I know God was there with me, and I cried out to Him often. At the time, I told my husband that maybe my deep pain and agony were to save another from going through it. I thought of a few people I knew that wouldn't have been able to handle it had they been in my shoes. What if there was a finite amount of pain in the world on any one day? Would I take on that pain so that another, weaker person who couldn't have lived through it, could be happy?
That’s what Jesus did for us. He took on our sins, our pain, and suffered for us, so that we could live life with Him everlasting, without pain. We were not even born, and He died for us. The cross was so heavy and burdensome; I imagine each splinter as the weight of thousands of our sins. Each and every nail, thorn for the wars in the world. He offered His life for us. Whether we choose to offer up our physical or emotional suffering so that another may be eased is our choice. My human mind has a difficult time wrapping around this concept. It doesn't make ‘sense’. Thankfully, when I let go and let God, as the saying goes, He told me.
Earlier this week, during a weekday Mass, the Monsignor talked about prayer is not about yanking God’s chain. In my words, you don’t pull on the chain, or ring the bell, and tell Him what to bring you in the parlor like a servant. We are the servants! We do not pray to change God; we pray so that we change ourselves! When we pray, we should not tell God what His solution should be; we tell Him our problems. He is our Father. As a mother, if my children came to me and gave me a problem that they couldn't fix themselves, I would take care of it if I could, and in the best interest of them. Now, of course, God can take care of anything. However, it might not be in our best interest. He knows His plan for us. He knows us better than we know ourselves.
Next time you have a headache, or are hungry, or a sprained ankle, offer it up to Him. “Father, I’m in pain right now; I pray that my suffering will ease another’s suffering, even for a short time.” Of course, I could take a Motrin, or eat a sandwich. I definitely would go to the doctor if it was required. I believe that God gives us modern medicine and expects us to use it.
True suffering is not sitting in traffic on your way to work. You have a car; you have a job. If you want to offer that up to Him as suffering, that is your choice. Instead, though, thank Him. You can even thank Him for your suffering.