My temper rose up inside me, and yet, I managed to reply calmly to her resistant yells, “You need to write this essay now. This is your assignment, and you are a student.” She stormed out of the room. I sat back in surprise. Two years ago, this conversation in our home-schooling morning would have ended differently. Either I would have lost control or given into her demands. But the Lord has been refining me.
“For he is like the refiner's fire, or like the fuller's lye” (Malachi 3:2).
In the past two years, I have been through the trials of multiple chronic illnesses and long emotional sufferings. The Lord has stayed ever at my side, refining me with the fire of His love through the physical pain of Lyme disease, idiopathic granulomatous mastitis, uterine infections, poor gut health, the emotional sorrow over a third miscarriage, and the long wait to try for another pregnancy. Like soiled wool, I have entrusted my suffering into His careful hands as He scrubbed with lye, cleansing it and teaching me patience.
He is the One Who taught me how to suffer by coming 2,000 years ago, as prophesied by Malachi, to refine the “sons of Levi,” Israelite priests who offered the temple sacrifices. Christ is the One High Priest Who sacrificed Himself on the Cross. We join in His priesthood through our Baptism (See Catechism of the Catholic Church § 1268) and can unite ourselves to His one sacrifice.
In our suffering, He refines us like gold or silver, so that we can offer the due sacrifice of our lives to the Lord. (See Malachi 3:3.)
By embracing my long sufferings with Him, I am more receptive to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I can see now the fruits of my offerings in my life, fruits of the Holy Spirit, such as greater patience in living my vocation.
Just twenty minutes after she stormed off, my daughter returned with an essay on the people she admires most. My mom is a very patient person. But it is all His work.
Take a look at Part III in the Catechism to learn more about the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Susanna Spencer is the Theological Editor for Blessed is She who studied theology and philosophy in her earlier life. She happily cares for her three adorable little girls, toddler boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul when not writing and editing. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. She is a contributing author to our children's devotional prayer book called Rise Up and Theological Editor of the Catechism Studies, the Mystery Studies, and the Works of Mercy study. You can find out more about her here.