The Thinking Poet


On Prayer and Suffering

Note: Ron’s condition declined dramatically in March 2005 and the following four months were very difficult. But by the grace of God the months of August, September, October and November offered a good quality of life with many blessings, and it was not until the middle of December that he began to go seriously downhill again. He died on 21st January 2006. I feel I should like to share the following extract from his journal for September.           Irene Cretchley


Yesterday evening we spoke with Ros about the answering of prayer. We all agreed on its amazing power. God has been most generous to me. Just recently Irene and I have enjoyed trips to White Horse Hill, Torquay and Cliveden. Six months ago this seemed inconceivable, such was my distress. It seemed then that my life and personality were dissolving into a terminal state. It is no exaggeration to say that I have been snatched from my suffering in answer to the collective prayers of family and friends. I cannot, of course, know how long this reprieve may last: as in all things, God’s providence is enigmatic and, thankfully, unknowable as we live from day to day.

 But there are lessons to be learnt from suffering as Michel Quoist explains. Redemption, he points out, is not only a struggle and victory over sin. It is also a victory over suffering and death. This, Jesus showed us in his last hours. He was not passive in the face of suffering, but fought against it in a creative and loving way.

“Thus a sick man, before offering his suffering to God, must fight with all his strength against his sickness…..even at the purely human level man can grow through suffering if, instead of resigning himself to it, he struggles against it and integrates it into his upward climb ..... it can be the occasion of his own salvation.”

 Of course I have not, over the course of the last months, been conscious of the redemptive action going on within me. I have lived from day to day as much as possible in the present, with my simple prayers, accompanied by a sense of grace which has been slowly restorative.

 As a Christian I believe in the mystery of the power that Jesus has made possible and effective to those of faith. From Quoist again:

“Since Jesus’ passion, there is an extraordinary force concealed within suffering which is capable of raising up the world. That force is the strength of the Redemption. It is the infinite strength of Jesus’ redeeming love”

 Therefore we thank God for his gift of Incarnation by virtue of which we mortals are made rich. In my suffering He has provided me, through love, with the power of His vicarious suffering. God, through Christ, is able to identify with us, and provide for us in our suffering.            Ron Cretchley