Gratitude filled my being as I watched the red-orange sun slip slowly into the horizon of Lake Michigan from the deck of the vacation lodge. The others were chatting over drinks inside while the children were supposed to be asleep in their bunkbeds.
This was our fourth vacation in the eleven years since college with these friends, friends who know us as well as family. We spent our college years together, pouring out our hearts, praying for each other, watching relationships grow. Afterwards, we attended each other’s weddings and have seen our families grow from across the country. These vacations, where we share a house bursting with adults and children, never seem long enough and never happen often enough.
They are like a taste of Heaven—living in a community of believers where all we have to do is spend time with each other. We take turns cooking meals and cleaning up, go to Mass together, discuss our lives and struggles, and—my favorite—discuss philosophy and theology.
Weeks like this show me that the Kingdom of God is indeed among us as Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel. (See Luke 17:21.)
But while I experience these and other beautiful moments of Heaven with family and friends, the Kingdom of God being among us now is not limited to the good, happy times. Christ shows us this when He talks about how the Son of Man must suffer and be rejected. (See Luke 17:25.) Christ’s suffering has redeemed all of our suffering—He is among us in our suffering.
The Kingdom of God is among us in the suffering of each and every human. We all have to endure suffering, just as Jesus did, before we are brought into our eternal Heavenly home. The way of this passing life is joy intermixed with suffering, but we must remember that it is all for the sake of the never-ending, eternal joy of Heaven with the whole Body of Christ—joy we get a foretaste of in our beautiful times together.Christ’s suffering has redeemed all of our suffering. // Susanna Spencer Click To Tweet
This piece on God cultivating the garden of our souls is a beautiful draw in on meaning in suffering.
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, 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.