By His stripes we are healed. By our own stripes, the world around us can be healed, too. But what makes our suffering into a stripe that heals others?
Love is what brought Jesus to the gruesome torture and suffering of the cross. Love for each of us, but more importantly, love for the Father and love for His perfect will. The Master had need of Jesus to bring about the salvation of the world, and He has need of us, too. Each of us in our own suffering can help bring about the salvation of souls when we love the will of the Father more than our own. We heal each other when we love others in our suffering more than we love ourselves. I trust in Him wholeheartedly that the loss of my children is being used in his perfect and holy master plan of salvation for others. And so I choose, as often as I can, not to focus on my own pain and suffering, but on the glory of what He will do with that pain and suffering when I unite it with His. He brings about the incredible and the miraculous in hearts and souls.
I recently listened to Bishop Robert Barron’s Stations of the Cross reflections (The stations of the Cross with Bishop Barron). At the fifth station, he parallels Simon being pressed into service to carry the cross, with the donkey being pressed into service to bear Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. In both Luke (19:31) and Matthew (21:3), a servant is told to go and untie the donkey and told, if questioned to simply respond, ‘the Master has need of it.’ It struck me! The Master also has need of you and me, especially in these days of uncertainty and fear that we are walking through.
The Master has need of each of us in the same way Jesus needed that donkey on His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, and needed Simon on the road to Calvary. We are all equipped in some way for these days we are now in, but maybe not in the way we think. Of course all of our gifts, talents, and riches can glorify God when we allow ourselves to be pressed into His service. But it is the crosses we bear, the sufferings we endure with faith, and the wounds we bravely face, that, when suffered with great Love of God, become the stripes that can heal. My suffering is actually my greatest blessing.
I can’t begin to know how my crosses, small in comparison to His own, serve Him, but I do know how THE cross has served me. It has healed me and made me whole. It has given me freedom and taught me deep and abiding love. If my stripes, united to Him, can do that for His beloved children, then I don’t have nearly enough of them.
The Master has need of me. And you.
“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His stripes you are healed.” 1 Peter 2:24