By Nna Anulumadu
The archbishop of Onitsha, the Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, on Thursday, April 6th, 2023, gave advice to Christians on ways to conquer suffering in their journey through life.
The prelate gave the teaching during a Cathedraticum Mass at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, Onitsha.
According to him, suffering cannot be excluded in our earthly sojourn, for a Christian life without suffering is an illusion since Christ himself suffered and died on the cross in order to redeem the entire human race from perpetual death.
He advised Christians to see suffering in our lives from a positive perspective since sufferings have something good to bring at the end of the day.
Speaking on the beneficial aspect of suffering, the archbishop pointed out that suffering can remind us of our fragility as humans, makes us seek the face of God, helps us to reorder our priorities and to develop compassion.
“Also, suffering ennobles our characters since some virtues are only developed and nurtured in man in the face of challenges and suffering. Suffering makes us home sick in the sense that it reminds us that this world is not our home.”
Teaching on the ways to conquer suffering, the chief shepherd advised that we must have the knowledge of the reality and value of suffering. “Secondly,” he said, “we should accept suffering when it comes because it is inevitable as it is part of being human. Also, one of the best gifts which Christianity has for the Christian is hope in the midst of suffering.” He added that God offers real hope to those who put their trust in Him.
“Faith, on the other hand, helps us to bring the reality of God’s presence into our concrete situations,” he concluded.
One of the weapons with which to conquer suffering, he disclosed, is love which Christ exemplified with his death on the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son” (Jn 3:16). According to the archbishop, when love is the motivation for any suffering, it diminishes or entirely removes the pains of suffering.
“When people are in a passionate, all-consuming love, there is a significant reduction in the pain they experience during suffering for the sake of that love.”
He further enjoined Christians to pray whenever suffering comes our way and to go to the Blessed Virgin Mary for assistance because she is the mother of the sufferers.
In the time of suffering, don’t consult witch doctors because the issue will be complicated; rather, say your rosary frequently and wait for God’s intervention.